“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful”—Hebrews 10:23 (NIV).
As the first candle of Advent was lit this past Sunday at our church, it set the tone for this season—a season of hope. For those unfamiliar with the Christian liturgical year, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.
For Christians, Advent is a time to reflect. It’s a time of anticipation, a time of waiting. During this busy season, we seek the quiet reflected in the starry night, thanking God for what He has done in our lives, wondering what God is doing, and what He will do next.
While Advent celebrates Christ’s birth—His first coming, it’s also a time of excitement and preparation as Christians anticipate His second coming, His return as Christ the King. It’s a time for imperfect people—all of us—to look forward to something greater to come, something greater than ourselves. The hope of better things to come.
Where is Our Hope?
Throughout each century, there have been many reasons for mankind to lose hope. War and threats of war. Economic upheaval. Religious and racial tensions. Weather-related catastrophes. Add in global pandemics, both past and present, and you have a recipe for hopelessness.
However, for children of God, hope is found in a person. Jesus Christ. Our hope comes from a perspective of faith, faith not in ourselves, but in the birth of our Savior.
Our pastor recently shared this quote he found on Crosswalk.com. Written by Candace Crabtree, she says, “Hope takes practice. Hope takes faith. Hope takes work. Hope must be an active word in our vocabulary. Hope is not passive. Hope doesn’t arrive on our front doorstep. Hope must be invited in. Hope must be practiced.”
Practicing Your Hope
I’d never considered the idea of practicing hope. Practicing my faith, yes. But, if we want to have bold hope, it requires renewing our faith through spiritual practices.
Pastor Ray offered these suggestions in his recent sermon, “The Habit of Hope.” Just as we practice our faith, we can practice our hope in practical ways.
- Celebrate with God’s people. Advent is a month-long season leading up to the celebration of the birth of the Christ child.
- Remind yourself who you are and whose you are. You are a child of the Most High God.
- Go outside and enjoy creation. Take a break from the news. Shut off the television, get off social media, and put down the newspaper.
- In these trying times, confide your worries to a friend. Get a different perspective. Remember God’s past goodness in your life.
- Read and meditate on His Word. Every day. Inhale the hope you can find in scripture.
- Invest in the future. Holy optimism equals hope. The hope of better things to come. By investing ourselves in the future of our church, our families, and our community, we’re reminded God is not finished with us yet.
One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 40:31. “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” It’s a reminder that our hope is in God, a God who is with us today, tomorrow, always.
After a 30-year teaching career, Carol Round found redirection as a Christian columnist, author and inspirational speaker. She is the author of nine books, all available at Amazon.com. (See her website at www.carolaround.com for more information.) When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her seven grandchildren, working in her yard, volunteering, shooting photos, hiking, going on mission trips and playing with her spoiled rotten dog, Harley.