A Season of Hope
By Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Contributor
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
The winter festivities continue to fly by. First came Halloween and harvest time, then Thanksgiving, and now the Advent season is upon us. For many, the season of Advent is spent in little else except preparing for Christmas. Gifts are bought, wrapped, and tucked away beneath the tree. Verses are read from the books of Luke and Isaiah as we recall the nativity story. People find it easier to remember to love their neighbors, give to the poor, and reflect on the meaning of Christmas.
I myself have been thinking a little bit about Advent… and about hope. You see, of the five Advent candles, the Prophecy Candle is lit first, which represents hope. We’re all familiar with that oft-quoted verse…
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Prophecies like these gave the Israelites hope that God would not forget them. During some of their darkest days, prophets like Isaiah gave them words from the Lord as a reminder that God would not abandon them to sin and slavery forever. Immanuel means “God with us,” and that is perhaps the most stirring theme of ancient prophecies.
Today may seem just as dark to us now. Wars are fought all over the world, bringing staggering civilian casualties as well as solider deaths. Children are abused and underfed. Homelessness is evident on every inner city street corner. Families are torn apart by greed, hatred, selfishness, and pride. But, just as the prophets gave hope to the ancient Israelites, we have a renewed hope through Christ.
“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
There it is again: Immanuel. God with us. Because God is with us! He spoke it over and over throughout history, and Christ affirmed it. As we enter into this season of Advent, is that not the greatest hope we could wish for? Through our struggles, failures, faults, and fears – we have the blessed hope that Christ is not only with us, but will continue to be with us and will return again.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Into what areas of your life can you inject hope? Remember, no situation is too dire for God.