Advent: Please Come

I recently received this postcard in the mail from Hope International.

Pretty, right? 

Well, it’s been haunting me.

I mean… I guess you could say the word “haunting” is a bit extreme. But I wouldn’t.

I can’t stop thinking about that word… you see it.. the tiny one they almost hoped you wouldn’t notice: “long-expected.”

In preparation to write this Advent post, I was reading my first Advent post from last year, and I thought to myself, “But I feel almost the exact same way now… a year later!” That gnawing that something is about to change… that something has to change. Actually, one big difference this year is that I know some things will change whether I like it or not. 

How do I keep my hope in God when sometimes it feels like I’ve been waiting for forever?

Come, thou long-expected Jesus.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. When I looked up “hope” in my little God’s Words of Life topical Scripture book, the first one listed was Romans 5:3-5:

Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I don’t like to read a verse about “hope” that begins with the word “suffering.” But it’s a fascinating chain of development.

The last couple of years have included some unique challenges for me, and sometimes I have felt like I’m suffering. In those moments, I focused a lot on putting “one foot in front of the other,” which I sincerely hope was perseverance because it would move me down that progression towards hope.

I know God has worked on my character in these years, but that realization just makes me angry. Because sometimes I don’t want to acknowledge the value and the growth birthed out of the difficulties. Sometimes it feels more validating to say “all this was just pointless suffering.” Then I get to feel sorry for myself. When I recognize growth, I have to jump on board and say, “God, what do you want to teach me?” Booo…. I mean… um… that’s beautiful.

But I am struck that the end result of suffering, perseverance, and character is not victory, reward, or answers. It is hope.

Come thou long-expected Jesus. Hope of all the world thou art.

Do I want suffering, perseverance and character that leads to hope? Or do I more often desire the eyes-tightly-shut-fingers-crossed hoping that leads to what I think I want in a particular circumstance?

“I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

I want hope. I know I do. No matter how long we are awaiting the long-expected Jesus to show up in our circumstances, in our relationships, or here on earth again, I want to rest in the hope that doesn’t disappoint.

The season of Advent is one of my favorites. And I love to step back and reflect on what it means to be expecting and hoping for the arrival of our Savior this Christmas season. How do you find hope when you have been waiting for a long time? How do you prepare in expectation for the arrival of Jesus?

Next Advent post: Peace

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