May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Wish lists are very popular this time of year. Letters to Santa, Amazon wish lists, and last-minute text messages from the mall are filled with things we desire. On the radio, people dream of getting a White Christmas, two front teeth, and hippopotamuses. There's nothing wrong with wishing. But as people who have placed our faith in Christ, we have something better than wishes. We have Hope.
John Piper puts it this way: "Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass." We do not have vague wishes for some possible but unlikely future good. Instead, because of the absolute reliability of God's promises, "[we] have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19). If you have been swept away in a sea of wishes, if you are worried, or if you have lost your hope, look to our faithful Messiah to remind you of the true source of hope. Then we can "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23).
Hope is something that can be cultivated. Use this list to build more hope into your Advent season, or make your own list.
- Listen to uplifting music or carols.
- Spend time with people who make you laugh.
- Write Romans 15:13, or some other verse about hope, on a post-it and leave it where you can read it regularly.
- Compliment someone.
- Look for symbols of hope in the decorations around you.
- Find a way to serve someone else, or, even more challenging, let someone else serve you.
- Take a prayer walk by your neighborhood school and pray for future generations of believers and leaders.
- Say a prayer, as you wrap gifts or write cards, for the people receiving the items you are sending.
- Light a candle and reflect on how you can shine a light in the darkness.
- Remind yourself of specific times that God has met your needs or answered your prayers.