Advent, Hope & Encouragement

Season of Hope

As we move away from Thanksgiving, we enter into the waiting and anticipation of Christmas during Advent. This is a season full of hope as we look forward to the fulfillment of the promise from God to send a Messiah to save us. 

This past week was definitely a different one when it came to preparing, cooking, and sitting down at my Thanksgiving table. I usually prepare a large meal for family and friends, along with leftovers for everyone, but not this year. This year it was just my husband and me sitting down to give thanks and break bread. While I still cooked my heart out and prepared care packages to drop off to loved ones, it was very quiet. The quietness gave me time to sit with the sorrow and grief I have been feeling, but to also think about Advent and God’s covenant with us.

I feel like this year has been one of unprecedented events and feelings in our lifetimes (see The Year of Waiting – 2020). There isn’t anyone I know who hasn’t been affected by illness, loss, grief, uncertainty, sadness, etc. Recently, I was reading a Harvard Business Review article by Scott Berinato, That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief in which he interviewed grief expert, David Kessler. In the article, Kessler states, “Sometimes we try not to feel what we’re feeling because we have this image of ‘gang feelings’. If I feel sad and let that in, it’ll never go away…The truth is our feelings move through us. We feel it and it goes and then we go onto the next feeling.” This notion of movement made me pause and think of what I have been telling myself and others lately, it is okay to feel your feelings, but don’t sit in them for too long, we must always keep moving through our feelings. I feel the Book of Lamentations is a great example of this idea of moving through out feelings:

Then I thought, “My future is lost, as well as my hope from the Lord. Remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I continually remember them and have become depressed. Yet, I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish for His mercies never end. They are made new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.” ~ Lamentations 3:18-24

The author, believed to be the prophet Jeremiah, talks about the pain he and the people of Judah were suffering, but it wasn’t without hope. He acknowledges the feelings they are all feeling but continues to move through and shift his attention to the hope they have through their covenant with the Lord. This is what we must do…acknowledge, feel the feelings, then shift our attention to the hope of the Advent season.

When we talk about having biblical hope, it is not about wishing for something. It is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. The keywords for me in this definition are confident and faithfulness. This is the same hope Abraham had when God promised him a son. The same hope Moses had when God instructed him to return to Egypt. The same hope Ruth had when she insisted on going to Bethelehem with Noami. The same hope David had for years when fleeing from Saul. The same hope Isaiah had when he proclaimed:

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. ~Isaiah 7:14-15

The fulfillment of this prophesy demonstrates the faithfulness of God when we have hope. We read about this in the Book of Luke, when Mary visits with her cousin Elizabeth to tell her of her pregnancy and the visit from the angel. Elizabeth didn’t need to hear a word Mary was about to utter, she and her baby knew the moment Mary arrived:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry “Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me! Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord will fulfill what He has spoken to her!” ~ Luke 1:41-45

The exclamation made by Elizabeth is a perfect example of hope. Read the last verse again, both Elizabeth and Mary had the confident expectation of what God has promised! Elizabeth was no longer lamenting over being childless and Mary was carrying the Son of God. As we enter the Advent season, let us no longer lament over the uncertainty of our times, but let us find the same hope Jeremiah, Elizabeth, and Mary had during their uncertain times.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see ~ Hebrews 11:1.

How are you placing your faith and hope in God this season? Below is a link to a song I have on repeat this week which may help you move through your feelings. 

When Hope Came Down by Kari Jobe 

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

https://www.gotquestions.org/hope-Bible.html

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