A Thrill of Hope

This week’s blog is by Becca Wellan.

It’s a Saturday afternoon. I hear the rain pouring down on the roof and the deep, whirring sound of the vacuum. My mom is downstairs, getting our dear home ready to decorate with shimmering lights and that horrible singing Santa (oh you better watch out).

I’m curled up by the fire in my favorite, cozy chair. The room is dark, except for the lamp my dad brought over for me. A Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite) is playing softly, and I (tragically) finished off my coffee two hours ago but I’m too cozy (read: lazy) to make the treacherous journey downstairs to the Keurig.

So here I sit, reading and writing and soaking in the sounds of the holidays as the day slips by. Without my coffee.

The season of Advent is here. I never celebrated Advent before and really, all I know about it is that it’s a time of preparing your heart for the coming of Jesus, and eating chocolate.

I love Jesus. I love chocolate. But I never gave much thought to Advent.

In days of Christmas past, the 25th would come in a whirlwind of wrapping paper and I’d find myself trying to find the “reason for the season” as I lay on the couch in a food coma after eating WAY too many of my (somewhat doughy but thoroughly addictive) cinnamon rolls.

Thank you Jesus for being born, I’d pray. And thank you for presents. And cinnamon rolls. Bless the hands that made them (mine). Amen.

And that’d be that. But not this year.

This year, my heart is desperate for hope amidst hurt and aching and trying to figure it all out and starting over, and over and over again. My heart is longing to be filled with the hope that is already ours, because God wrapped Himself in human skin and bones. Because a baby named Jesus was born.

Advent means coming. And not as in “Santa Claus is coming.” Just like Lent is a time to prepare your soul for celebrating a risen King, Advent is a time to prepare your soul for celebrating the coming of Jesus. Like God’s people hoped for a Savior before Jesus was born, we posture our hearts to anticipate His coming too.

But it’s tricky to anticipate the birth of Jesus because we already know the story (thanks, Linus). We know that “unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). We know He went to a cross, died and rose again to absorb the punishment of hell and separation from God that we had coming. We know He did it all, with us on His heart.

We know a lot of things, but what we know doesn’t always invade our daily reality.
The oh-NO-I-lost-my-keys-again reality.
The my-heart-is-broken reality.
The I-burnt-the-toast-again reality.
The I-feel-like-a-failure-at-my-job reality.
The I-am-stressed-out-of-my-mind reality.

In the midst of our mundane, bitter, difficult but sometimes pretty great reality, we are in danger of overlooking the stunning miracle that is the birth of Christ. Not just in a whirlwind of holiday fluster, but throughout the entire year. We miss out on this heart-changing reality: a baby in a manger gives us hope for the days when you feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Ya’ll been there? I have. Or, hope for the days when the dull pain of heartache in your chest just won’t go away, no matter how many deep breaths you take. Or how many cinnamon rolls you eat.

When you think of “hope,” what comes to mind? For me, the word “hope” conjures up images of a walk-in-closet filled with flannel. And a box of donuts. And bacon. Lot’s of bacon.

But we all need a greater hope than mere wishful thinking. Biblical hope is not a cross-your-fingers type of hope (like, I hope I’ll learn how to not burn toast). These are things we tell ourselves to make us feel better. The sad truth is, we bank our current happiness on these little hopes. We wish for what we can never truly rest in.

God’s hope never operates like our little hopes.

No, the hope of God is a hope that is secure. God is faithful, He never changes. When He promised to send a Savior, He did. The same God that fulfilled His promise then is the same God that will fulfill His promises to us, today.

Because of His unchanging character, we can look into the future and expect, with absolute confidence and trust, that God will do exactly what He says He will do. He will care for us exactly how He says He will.

Please celebrate this with me! God is not like us, His love never changes.

God promises to change us, so throughout our lives we will become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). When you’re struggling with sin, you can have hope that God will transform you. He promises that He will work ALL things for the good of those who love Him, so in the midst of suffering you can have hope that it will be for your benefit and God will use it in your life (Romans 8:28). When God promised to go to prepare a place for us in heaven, we have hope that one day we will be home (John 14:2).

This is my comfort today, this very moment. God was faithful 2,000 years ago when He came as a baby, then grew into a man who was a dear friend of sinners, then died on a cross to save them. To save us. To save me, even though I mess up big time and also burn toast.

So I can say, with full confidence, that He will be faithful to me now, and everyday for the rest of my life. He will be my Savior, my greatest love, my comforter, and my constant source of peace.

May this be your hope too, fam. Merry Christmas!