Advent week 1: Hope
Expectations are powerful. We long to trust possessions, people and ideas with our hope – hope of something greater than what we currently have. Relationships, careers and entertainment willingly receive our expectations. To the degree that we think each will deliver, anticipation grows inside of us. The voice of childhood may change tone through the years, but the same gut response comes with every disappointment:
“But you promised…”
It might not be said so plainly, but our confidence shifts as the desired object escapes our fingertips. Impatience replaces anticipation. Unrest and discontentment rise up to our defenses, while our greatest need seems too simple – perspective.
God makes promises to His people throughout the Old Testament.
- A rainbow appears as a promise that the flood was a one-time deal.
- God promises deliverance and spares an entire generation of Israel during Passover and with it preserves the joy of each father in holding his firstborn son.
- David sleeps on cave floors, hunted by Saul, and God delivers him.
Our Father is a promise-making and promise-keeping God.
There are also those who longed for the fulfillment of promises yet could only cling to the promises themselves. For days, weeks, months and years, these people waited. Genesis speaks of Abraham and Sarah who, with Abraham in his 80s, had no child. Their hopes and expectations belong to any would-be parent: a sign of the future, the joy of parenting, but the next generation absent. Along with Abraham and Sarah, the people of Israel knew a collective experience of waiting. God promised a Messiah, a Deliverer, an anointed King. Days turned into months and seasons into years. God’s people often waited and trusted with patience and hope.
We often create our own expectations. What we want or think we deserve leaves us discontent, disillusioned, even resentful when it does not come. These feelings live in deep and powerful places within our souls and can begin to define us.
None of us escape this pain, this fear that if we love something enough God will take it away from us, as if He is vengeful and plays games with His children. We trust the object of our expectations and set our expectations too low when they were meant to be occupied by Him, after all. What good thing would the Father withhold from us if He has given us His only Son? What more could capture our hearts than the Savior Himself and the knowledge that He died bound that we might live free?
Decades of wanting, years of promise, fitless starts and stops of patience – Abraham’s faith finds no greater description than where we read of father and son walking down the mountain together, leaving behind an altar that bears the name,“The Lord will provide.”
There is no more powerful expectation than patience in the promises of God, for He has provided the Lamb, and the Lamb is the coming King.
This is hope…