Thursday, December 23

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2021 Advent Devotional: In the Midst of Changing Ways – Many Gifts, One Spirit

Week 4: The Gift of Hope

Scripture: Micah 5:4-5 – “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be one of peace.”

Reflector: Charlotte Sass

HOPE — a word regularly used: “I hope so.” “She’s hopeful.” “He’s holding out hope.” Yet, despite its normal presence in the shared air of conversations, when I sit to write about it, I’m quite overwhelmed. What a powerful word it is.

Hope — can be an intellectual practice — a choice to stay positive or optimistic. It is, undeniably, a practice of great magnitude, which can dramatically affect the health and quality of a human life.

Hope — can be a feeling — an intuition that things will go well. We feel hopeful because we have a sense of the outcome. We can see the likelihood of a positive result, and we are hopeful.

Both of the above translate to a beneficial outcome for the one hoping or the one being hoped for. This kind of hope fails all of the time (both teams hope they will win, a senior hopes they get into their college of choice, the list is infinite), and even the most unselfish, well-intended hope can wane in the face of deep pain, debilitating fear, unexpected loss, and death. Optimism has its place, but can be naïve and even hurtful when a negative outcome is likely, eminent, or has already taken place.

I believe real hope, true spiritual hope, does not originate with us, nor is it rooted in any outward result. It is, rather, a gift from God, and even more so, a promise from God, intended inimitably to change us from the inside.

Photo by Marc Ignacio on Unsplash
I lost my husband in my 30’s. The life in front of me — planned out, envisioned, hoped for, already defining me, already loved — was blown into an abyss of nothingness overnight. Somewhere amidst the trauma, I laid in bed sinking into a darkness foreign to me. It was, I truly believe, a pivotal point between living or dying — literally or figuratively, I still don’t know. There was a distinct moment where I was unexpectedly jolted amidst the void; a moment of lucidness that heeded a warning that if I let myself sink any further into that darkness, I may not get out. I found myself praying. The air returned to my lungs, the blood to my veins, and the darkness never returned. I believe my life was saved, spiritually resuscitated — not because I hoped for anything at all in that darkness, I was incapable of hope — but because God hoped for me.

I believe Hope is ultimately not something we do. Hope is, rather, a gift God always holds at the ready for us, a promise to be with us, and our lives are never the same.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek …
Blessed am I …
Blessed are you ….