We’re in the week of Thanksgiving which brings about a time of reflection of what we’re thankful for. I’m taking a little bit of a different direction this Sunday with Thanksgiving on our minds. When we take time to be thankful, we start to see all of the good around us even amongst the chaos of this world. When I think about the chaos of life and of this world, I’m thankful for something I do not yet have. I’m thankful for God’s redemption and reconciliation of all things. Take a moment to read Romans 8. The future glory of God’s redemption is the hope that we have. All of creation longs for it. They cry out for it. We feel it in our bones every time something tragic happens. We long for God to restore all things back to the goodness he intended for it in the first place. This longing is called “hope.”
What does it mean to hope?
How is hope different from optimism?
Biblical hope focuses on the redemptive actions of God while optimism is about choosing to see, in any situation, how circumstances could work out for the best. Biblical hope doesn’t focus on specific circumstances but on God’s overall redemption. Throughout the Bible, hopeful people often recognize that there’s no evidence that their circumstances are going to change, and things will get better. These people choose to hope anyway because they know that God chose to surprise his people with redemption back in the days of the Exodus, and he could do it again.
Biblical hope comes in a few different words that get translated as with “hope” or “to wait.” As we look back at God’s past faithfulness, we are motivated to hope for the future. This places us in a hard position because we have to wait on God. We are impatient people. We don’t see God acting so we step in and act on God’s behalf. This puts us in a struggle to trust in God. Our ability to wait on God says a lot about how well we believe Romans 8. Do you believe that God is going to restore all things through Jesus Christ? This is the Christian form of Hope. We aren’t just looking back to God’s action in Exodus. We look back to the resurrection where Christ becomes our “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3-12). This hope, according to Paul in Romans 8:20-21, is “that creation itself will be liberated from slavery to corruption into freedom when God’s children are glorified.”
Christian hope is bold. It is a choice to wait for God to bring about a future that’s as surprising as a crucified man rising from the dead. In this time of hope, we look back to the risen Jesus in order to look forward to his coming. So, we wait.
At the beginning of December, we will enter into what Christians have called the season of Advent. The word “Advent” simply means coming or arrival. It is a time of anticipation where Christians have historically taken this time to look back at the Jewish anticipation of the coming Messiah while also looking forward with anticipation to his coming again. This Sunday, I want to give a brief introduction into the season of Advent. Cody and I will post a daily devotional through Advent and we want to invite you into participating together in your home. What does it mean to live in a time of waiting for the coming Christ?
In preparation for Sunday’s sermon, spend some time reflecting on the passages above. The main passage I want you to rest with is Psalm 130. What does it mean to wait? Where are some areas of your life where you are impatient with God’s movement? What does it mean to wait and hope in those spaces? I want to be god in these moments but waiting calls me to relinquish my desire for control and to let God be God.
As we anticipate the coming of Christ, let’s hope together.