A Season of Hope

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:5

I love Christmas. It’s always been my very favorite time of year.

Don’t get me wrong. If we were strictly talking about weather, summer would certainly get my vote. Warm summer nights, cookouts, and sunshine beat cold, gray winter doldrums any day.

But Christmas to me was never about the weather. It was about the feeling.

Do you know the one I’m talking about? My mother called it sugarplums. Every year, along with the onset of Christmas carols, decorated trees, holiday smells, and exploding trays of Christmas cookies came the inevitable dancing inside my soul that would start in the depths of my stomach and flutter up into my heart.

Excitement would grip me from top to bottom, anticipation building with each opened door on the advent calendar. Finally on the night of December 24th, I would lose the ability to sleep altogether.

I wish I could say that my excitement over Christmas found its roots in its spiritual implications. It didn’t. Although I marveled at the wonders surrounding Jesus’ Bethlehem story, it would be years until I understood its profound meaning to my own life and opened the wondrous gift God gave me in His Son.

No, my sleepless nights and Christmas sugarplums were the result of something much more tangible to my childish mind. They were roused by anticipation over the presents.

You see, although my childhood was rich in love, we couldn’t afford to spend a whole lot on extra things. As a result, if there was something my brothers or I wanted throughout the year, we would be instructed to place the item on our Christmas list.

Then we’d wait. And we’d hope. And as the big day drew near, we’d wonder what treasures might actually appear beneath the Christmas tree.

Oh, the glorious excitement that hope brings! Do you remember what it feels like to hope?

I believe it’s safe to conclude we’ve all felt it. At some point, even if only for a few brief moments of childhood abandon, we’ve each allowed the glimmer of possibility to stir our hearts.

And that stirring kindled anticipation, igniting a spark of joyful expectancy within our hearts at the thought that what we wanted just might come to be.

Perhaps that hope even inspired a step of faith.

You bought that lottery ticket expecting your number to come up. You made a big investment, wooed by the promise of greater rewards. Or maybe you opened your heart to take a chance on love.

Then you waited and watched . . . and hoped. And you didn’t get the outcome you desired.

Unfortunately, in a world with very few guarantees, we often end up disappointed. Scripture confirms the validity of our response,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick . . .  Proverbs 13:12

Maybe you’ve arrived at a place in your life where you no longer dare to hope. Shadows of disappointment have drowned out the merriment hope brings, leaving cynicism in its place.

And so stories of a child Savior born in a stable with the power to redeem you seem a bit farfetched. You can appreciate the sentimental wonder of the story, but you dare not open your heart to really believe Him for His promises.

Yet Romans 5:5 makes a bold claim, “And hope does not disappoint us . . .”

How can this be? My own track record proves that hope can certainly disappoint.

Perhaps, but the hope that Scripture offers differs greatly from the hope we’ve experienced out in the world. And that difference changes everything.

My dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is desired is also possible, or that events may turn out for the best.” The Greek word translated hope in our Bibles actually means, the “desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.”

Do you see the difference? Hope as we know it involves possibility. Biblical hope includes expectation.

Unlike anything else in this world we might place our hope in, Jesus includes a guarantee. Every promise made in Christ is as good as done. We just have to trust Him for them.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:5

There is no gift greater than transforming love, and this gift keeps on giving! Will you take a chance on hope, dear one? Will you trust Jesus to change you for the better? I can promise you this time you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, God promises. And He sealed that promise with the blood of His Son. Perhaps it’s time to make possibility your reality.

 

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