The Gratitude of Hope
As we move into Thanksgiving and Advent season we are gifted with fresh opportunities to analyze our hopes. As we look out the windows of our lives we sometimes encounter seemingly hopeless situations. At times there are health issues or relational issues that appear impossible to resolve. Other times it is the global strife around us that can feel daunting. Finding hope and holding on to it can be a challenge.
Christians, despite all of these obstacles, are given some very unique hope:
From Romans 13:11 we discover that God identifies Himself as the “God of Hope.” A “hope” is greater than a “wish.” Our hope is rooted in God’s promises, in Him personally, and in His proven character. Christ followers have daily access to hope because Christ has given us access to the God of Hope.
God desires to fill us with “all joy and peace in believing.” This in and of itself is incredible. Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is tethered to our circumstances. Christian joy is like an unsinkable ship. Despite the storms and waves of life, Christ’s joy keeps us buoyant and living above the waterline. Secondly, the Christian’s peace is “a harmony and a delight in all of one’s relationships: between us and God, us and one another, us and culture, and us and ourselves.” Regardless of the brokenness in any of our relationships there is the potential and the path to peace through Christ. The God of hope desires us to be full of joy and peace in a world that is usually missing both of those things. These are His gifts to us.
Finally the Spirit who resides inside the Christian desires that all of us would “abound in hope.” The Spirit produces in us a hope that is overflowing and contagious to those around us. This hope is a balm and a blessing to those who are living without it. This type of hope elevates the downcast and downtrodden and lifts them to their feet.
We must ask ourselves, “How can I feel and produce this type of hope?” There is not a singular answer to this, but a quick reflection on the presence of Christ gives us an inroad.
Christ came. Christians find hope in celebrating the fact that Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived as a man, died as our Savior, and rose as our victorious King. This is the bedrock of the Christian faith. Knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we have been reconciled to God is our first hope.
Christ will come again. Christ followers also find hope in the promise that Christ is coming again. We know that when He returns He will right every wrong, wipe away every tear, permanently eradicate pain and death, and create a new world for His children. We have hope and expectation in this promise, and we yearn for the day of His arrival.
Christ comes. Sometimes we forget that Jesus comes to us daily in the here and now. He provides daily bread, new mercies, fresh grace, renewed opportunities, shelter, food, sustenance, and steadfast love. These are available to us on a regular basis. These blessings provide us with daily hope and they are part of the “abundant life” that He promises to us in John 10:10.
Thanksgiving and Advent give us a chance to analyze our hopes. May all of us rejoice with the hopes we have in Christ. May our own lips and hearts abound in gratitude and joy to direct a hopeless world around us to the Hope that will not disappoint!