Here we are already in the second week of Advent. We still cling to hope as we long for peace. The feeling of peace seems to be few and far between these days looking around the world. But hope gives peace that needs to be held tightly.
“…be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.” – Jesus (John 16:33)
This is a verse I need to memorize. To be honest, I feel these days can seem like a “plague with times of trouble”. How can I not think it’s troubled times when I hear about and see pictures of refugees stranded with no home, no food, no way of finding a job, with their children sleeping on the dirt ground shivering under a damp, molding blanket. Or when hundreds of people in Paris enjoying an evening at dinner with friends or cheering at a soccer game are brutally interrupted with people being killed and wounded physically and deep in their souls, along with the people who were affected by a shooting in California led by ISIS supporters last week.
I can catch myself becoming fearful thinking many “what ifs…” What-ifs I don’t want to dwell on. Instead I’m choosing to focus on that Scripture I just read – not to fear because Jesus has already triumphed over this corrupt world. And since He’s already won victory for us, we can live in peace.
I recently read a post by Max Lucado called “The Original Terrorist”. You can probably figure out who the original terrorist is. I think it was very good and something you might want to read. At the end he writes, “Our world is in desperate need of a generation of Christians who will respond in faith to the fear of these days. If you have said “yes” to Christ, you have the presence of God within you. ‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.’” (I John. 4:4)
(God within you. Immanuel.)
He goes on to say we can’t fight Evil unless we PRAY and ARM OURSELVES with GOD’S WORD. When we do those things, God’s peace will give us what we need to trust in Him knowing that HE’s already won the battle for us.
God is the Prince of Peace and our Armor, He rescues and protects us. The Gospel is peace. He understands how our “fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.”
The Truth gives peace even in this weary world.
I have to admit, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving I found myself listening to the radio station that had already started playing Christmas music. (I know some people have mixed feelings about that!) When I heard the classic song, “Oh Holy Night” for the first time this season, a line in the song I’ve sung I don’t know how many times, jumped out at me like it never had before. Ever since then it’s been going through my head: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
A thrill of hope. In the many years I’ve sung that song, those four words placed together have never stood out to me. Until now.
Thrill – a sudden feeling of excitement. An unexpected feeling of hope when our God became flesh.
It’s a prayer for people in this weary world to feel a thrill of hope. For people who are weary of either experiencing or hearing stories daily in the news that give bad, even horrific news around the world. For people who are weary of doctor appointment after doctor appointment. For people who are weary of waiting. For people who are weary of being weary.
A couple thousand years ago, Jesus became their thrill of hope. The hope they’d been waiting for what seemed like forever. Could this baby really be the anticipation of a long-awaited prayer finally being answered? Jesus is our thrill of hope as we wait for his second coming. Just thinking about that can bring a burst of hope and peace.
What if these days that lie ahead, Christ-followers intentionally live out our daily lives with a thrill of excitement and hope in the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Where we’re bolder and more outspoken in our faith. Where we’re not ashamed of the Gospel and instead are confident in Christ that His will is being done and his promises are true and He has come to save us.
“You can’t snuff out hope, you can’t smother out hope, you can’t stamp out hope — because He is Coming.” – Ann Voskamp
May we feel the thrill of hope in this weary world. Hope that will give us peace through Christ. The same hope that calms our fears, that restores our souls, that redeems the lost, that defeats the darkness, and hope and peace that brings joy.
Come Jesus come.
“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
from “Oh Holy Night’
Thanksgiving is over and is gone for another year. We gave our thanks. We practiced gratitude. We ate too much.
Ann Voskamp says that eucharisteo (the daily pursuit to recognize His blessings) always precedes, comes before, the miracle.
Our “thanks giving” comes before our Advent, the waiting and preparing for the miracle of the birth of Christ.
Advent for me comes on the first day of December.
It has been a decade since I began the first dark journey in the darkened skies of that early morning, a journey to rediscover the hope of the Light promised by God and to hear His voice in the vast silence of that time.
I am always brought back to that early morning when Advent approaches, and am reminded of the journey out of the silence and into the light.
The world at Christ’s birth “. . . had in stillness lay” for 4000 years with no word from God, no reminder of His great promise.
The people’s grip on the slender thread of a 4000 year old promise was slipping, and there was no hope.
The children of the promise had 4000 years to prepare their hearts for the Messiah. We have four weeks, or as I count Advent, 24 days.
I need Advent to remind me of those dark nights holding onto my slender thread of hope, to remind me of the search for the Light, the wait to hear God, to become the soothing balm to chase away the dark.
I need Advent to do a serious cleaning of my heart. To sweep out the cobwebs of doubt, to wipe clean the corners of darkness gathering on the edges, to prepare my heart to receive the coming, the Advent, of my Savior.
I count Advent, by lighting candles, daily readings, hanging ornaments. I mark the passing of the days as “a way of staying awake and not missing” the coming, the Advent.
Advent is made of the moments, a slow unfurling of grace.
In those dark nights of 10 years ago, and nights that still follow, I come back to Lamentations 3
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!’
The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek Him.
So it is good to wait quietly, for salvation from the Lord.”
I find courage in Advent to shake my fist at the darkness of the world and defiantly say “I still dare to hope . . .” as I still myself and quiet my heart to wait, and mark the days to the dawn of Christmas.