We are in the first week of advent. In the church, Advent means the weeks leading up to the birth of Christ. Often this is represented by lighting a candle, specifically purple in color, to signify the hope of the coming of Christ.
In the Old Testament, God’s people had strayed so far from Him. They had turned their backs on the statutes and commands God had given them. He wanted to bless his people, only if they would continue to obey. The lived out their own selfish desires, mocked prophets who were trying to get them to turn back to God, and event went so far as sacrificing their own children to other gods from surrounding cultures. God decided that the best way to bring His children back to Him, would be to remove them from everything that caused them to turn away from Him. They needed to be placed in an unknown land with nothing or no one else to rely on, but God. He destroyed their homeland and sent them into exile in foreign lands.
God’s people were in darkness, without hope, but through His prophets, He gave them promises of hope, a promise of a new light that would break through their darkness. The hope of a coming Messiah, to usher in light to their dark world.
Our world is in a pit of darkness. Anxiety and depression are waging war on our minds. Medicine, alcohol, and drugs become Band-Aids to create the light of hope in our darkness. Please know that I am not criticizing the need for medicine. My own daughter can not yet cope without it, but the need for Band-Aids will never fully quench the need for true light.
Isaac Pennington states, ” A man may get a notion from this into his mind, which he may retain the knowledge of; but his knowledge will quickly die. But he that dwells in the light…dwells in that which never dies.” We can buy and do all of the things that make us happy or feel better, but they are only temporary. The light and hope that come from knowing God can never be taken away.
As I thought about what I would write for this week of “hope”, I was sitting in the movie theater waiting to watch “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. I know I am not the only one with a deep love for Mr. Rogers. He shaped my childhood, every afternoon afterschool. After an hour of Big Bird and Cookie Monster, I was enthralled with Mr. Rogers and his land of make believe. After his passing, doucmentaries have been made, and books have been written. He drew people into his life with tenderness as he addressed tough topics such as racism, war, and divorce. He didn’t sugarcoat the pain we experience but gave us hope in the middle of the pain so we could deal with our feelings. His hope and light weren’t self-manufactured. His light was from his relationship with God. He prayed for people every day by name and read the Bible. The hope that filled Mr. Rogers was from God and overflowed to everyone around Him.
Getting drunk can’t do that. Another hit can’t do that. One more pill can’t do that. Buying an abundance of things can not fill us with overflowing light. It will soon die. We can’t fill ourselves with self-manufactured hope to the point of overflowing. Its exhausting. Only hope embodied in Jesus can be poured out on others.
I have been in dark places in my life where the only light I could see was because of the hope God had poured out on me. Hope makes you stay. Hope makes you move. Hope makes you love. Hope makes you live.
This week, I encourage you to think about your hope. Do you have any? Where does it come from? Where have you tried to find hope?
This is my prayer for you:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13