Advent: The Thrill of Hope

“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
   I am your shield,
   your very great reward.”

Genesis 15:1

It’s seems strange to start an Advent post saying, “Do not be afraid.” Advent is about hope, faith, joy, and peace, but I think we need to first acknowledge reality. Let’s be honest, we live in a crazy world. Either people we love are suffering or we are, politics are ugly, stress and anxiety are high. Oh, how we need the message of Advent, actually we need the Person of Advent!

I want to focus on looking back to the story of Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah). Their journey of hoping in God despite the circumstances is a story we can learn from. Maybe we can identify ourselves in Abraham and Sarah. Let us reorient our way back to Jesus. Ultimately, Jesus is our true hope and our true focus for Christmas. Let us light our Advent candle of Hope.

Step 1:  Hope in the Face of Fear – Genesis 15:1-5

Abram complained to God that he had no heir, no son to pass on his inheritance. He and Sarai, I am sure, were disappointed that they were still childless. He took his complaint to God, because I think Abram believed God when God said that He was his shield and reward.

Abram trusted in God as his very present help in times of trouble.

God gave Abram a visual object lesson. “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  God took Abram outside of his tent, outside of his current circumstances, and made him look up. God is bigger and greater than anything we face, and He has a plan for our life.

What circumstances is God wanting to take your eyes off of to place your hope and trust in Him? How big is your God?

Step 2:  Wait on God – Genesis 16:1-6

Sarai, Abram’s wife, took matters into her own hands. God was taking too long, “The LORD has kept me from having children…Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me.”  Sarai grew impatient in waiting for God to fulfill His promise. Sarai’s plan failed. She did not wait on God to do what only God can do.

“In every relation and situation in life there is some cross for us to bear: much of the exercise of faith consists in patiently submitting, in waiting the Lord’s time, and using only those means which he appoints for the removal of the cross.”

Matthew Henry

Have you grown weary in waiting? Are you growing impatient? Do you think God is holding out on you? Are you trying to figure out a solution to your problem? Wait on the Lord. Waiting = Trusting.

Step 3:  Repeat After Me…God Always Fulfills His Promises To Us – Genesis 21:1-7

Despite the times where Abraham and Sarah disobeyed, got off track, sinned, devised their own plan, God was still faithful. He loves you and cares about you. And He is a merciful, forgiving God. Hopefully that gives you great comfort.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.”

  • The Lord was gracious as He had said.
  • The Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.
  • The Lord’s promise was right on time.

My Prayer for You

I pray that you will go back and read through these chapters in the Bible. I know God’s Word will renew your hope, whatever your circumstances may be. I pray that you will see the promise to us that Jesus is, as you sing Christmas hymns, do your Christmas shopping and attend all those Christmas family gatherings.

However, it’s not lost on me that for some, Christmas is a lonely holiday. I pray you will step out in hope and faith this year. Attend a church service, reach out, don’t suffer in silence.

May you gain knowledge of God through His Word that will change the way you see yourself, circumstances and others. Put your hope and faith in Jesus, not yourself, circumstances and others.

To give you a little jump start, put your name in the blank:  “Do not be afraid, _______, I am your shield, your very great reward.

As I light my first Advent candle, that is what I will be saying for myself, and praying for this truth to sink down into the very depths of your soul. You are so loved!

Meet me back here next week as we look back to look forward!

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