Hope—the magnification of Scriptural promises into believable realities—is the instrument that connects longing with joy and makes waiting bearable. It is also, according to Hebrews 11:1, the crux of faith. Like faith, though, hope takes effort, especially when we face difficulty. We operate in the present moment and are likely to be distracted by current problems and concerns. Through hope, though, we look behind and before us, focusing our attention not only on the old promises but on the trustworthiness of the Promiser and on the evidence—so easily overlooked—that what one hopes for might actually be coming to pass.
Christmas is, for me, a yearly lesson in hope. All the jolly promises seem empty, I think, as I pack up presents to send to nieces and nephews, hammer the stocking loops onto the lintel, and sit in a pew listening to sermons and songs about this good news of great joy everyone should be experiencing. At Christmas, as at no other time, I long for God's promised presence—for joy itself—but, unlike Mary, I often invest little in the hope of actually experiencing it.
Mary waited purposefully. She not only submitted to God's will, but examined her situation, as through a magnifying glass, in search of God's ancient promises. Faced with difficulty and confusion, she peered closer, looking for joy—and she found it.
Patty Kirk, a regular contributor to our Walk with Me blog, is an adjunct professor of English at John Brown University, and is author of Confessions of an Amateur Believer (Thomas Nelson). www.amateurbeliever.com
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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