Advent Series – Week Two – He is our Hope
The second part in our Advent Series. Find the part one of this series, as well as the intro, here:
Anxious parents, aged far beyond their years, raced behind the ambulance that carried their only son to the critical care hospital nearby. It was a trip they’d taken countless times before, and yet each time, they brought with them a faint hope that perhaps this would be the time the doctors found a cure. Up to now, that dream was not realised. The medical profession had no permanent solution. The best they could offer the couple’s frail child was intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Once the boy was stabilised, and after a few days of rest, they were free to take him home. Month after month, year after year, their son’s illness progressed. The knowledge that they were losing their son crushed their spirits.
Looking at their frail lad as he slept in his hospital bed, the husband wrapped his arms around his wife, allowing her to lean into his strength. “We can only hope.” His wife wearily nodded in response as he continued. “And do everything we can do to keep our son alive. We can’t give up.” With a sigh, he looked at his son, so small and weak. “The doctors will find the cure, they promised.” Despite her emotional fatigue, his wife whispered with determination. “We just need to be patient; there is nothing else we can do.”
They settled on the small padded bench near their son’s bed and clasped hands. They were all too familiar with the wait that lay before them. The minute hand’s progress on the clock on the wall slowed to a crawl. That chill that accompanies the darkest hour of the night made them reach for a spare blanket to wrap themselves in.
Suddenly, they heard quick footsteps approaching their son’s room accompanied by a joyous voice, calling out, “There’s hope! There’s real hope!” They sprang to their feet and ushered the doctor in.
Much like those anxious parents, the children of Israel waited, hoping their Messiah would come and free them from the slavery of their sin and the tyranny of their oppressors. They lived with the knowledge that even the most pious of the high priests and rabbis could not stop the relentless progression of generations of sin. Although their blood offerings and sacrifices would temporarily cleanse them, everyone knew it was only a temporary fix. They hoped for the day that a permanent cure for their sin would be found.
He is Our Hope
Little did the Israelites know the cure for their terminal illness would be born in a hut and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Little did they know this babe was the fulfilment of ancient prophecy. Both his questionable parentage and his humble little hometown were stumbling blocks. He would be the living persona of hope, the once and for all sacrifice, the conqueror of death. All the signs were there; they just needed to read the signs through the lens of hope.
Proverbs 13:12 – “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
There are several ways to interpret this proverb, but I find Bill Johnson’s teaching on hope deferred to be the most helpful. Bill suggests that our heart becomes sick when we place our attention on a favourable outcome and not on the hope-bringer. We may start with the best of intentions, but as we storm heaven with intercession concerning a matter, there is the danger that we become so focused on the distant goal that we can’t see what Jesus is doing in our present.
I have seen the hearts of people close to me become sick when the answers they were seeking from God were delayed. Struggling with increased bitterness, resentment, and scepticism, they distanced themselves from God and his people. They needlessly succumbed to heartsickness.
Anna and Simeon (Luke 2: 32-38) are shining examples of how to keep our focus on the Hope-Bringer when answers to prayer are delayed. Both had lived long lives, faithful to the hope of seeing the coming Messiah face to face. Simeon clung to the promise God gave him; he would not die before he beheld the Messiah. Anna, an elderly prophetess, prayed and fasted in the temple for decades. Their dogged determination to not lose hope in God and his promises, despite a considerable delay, was amply rewarded.
There would have been nothing in Mary or Joseph’s attire or anything in their posture that would have drawn attention to themselves or their baby. Only those with eyes of sincere hope could see the promise fulfilled. Because they kept their gaze focused on the Hope Bringer and Promise Keeper, they easily recognised the fulfilment of that promise in the tiny infant who snuggled in his humble mother’s arms. I can only imagine the tears of unspeakable joy that spilt down their wrinkled faces as Anna and Simeon beheld the promise fulfilled.
Stay the course, keep your eyes fixed on the prize… Jesus Christ! Don’t allow delayed answers to deter you.
Lord, when our circumstances seem hopeless, we choose to place our trust in you, knowing You hold all things in Your hands. You are not just our physician; you are hope personified, and you are our cure. We give you our addictions, our sin, and our debt. We give You our lost loved ones. We give you our dysfunctional families. We give you our broken dreams, our hopes deferred, and our crushed spirits. We give You our sleepless nights, our physical pain, our diseases, and our mental anguish. We set our ears to listen for your approaching footsteps. Even so, come quickly, Lord.
Bonus YouTube Video for further insight.
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Until Next Week
2013, 2018 Katherine Walden
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