Read Romans 15:4-13.
Hope is an orientation of the soul, a direction of travel. It is an expectation of eventual arrival. It is motivation toward a goal, confidence in achieving it, joy and peace in the journey. Hope is building a house, planting a vineyard, raising a family.
The lack of hope is boredom and torpor and listlessness. It is entertainment and alcohol and chatter. It is avoidance of duties and disobedience. Without hope we become dissipated or inert.
In societies where there is persecution, hope manifests as longing for a righteous kingdom. In poverty, hope longs for needs to be met. In a rich society, hope longs for…what does hope long for? If that society is healthy, perhaps for meaningful work, for a way to serve others.
In the church, hope is an honest expectation of being freed from sin, of dying to self and living for Christ, of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, of being made like Christ. As John says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
When hope is not accompanied by faith, it has little power. It is a faint hope, a glimmer of possibility that is easily forgotten. When combined with faith, hope is joy and peace in slow but steady progress, a confidence in what is to come, a life-orienting direction. Hope with faith leads to confident action.
Advent is the season of anticipation, of hope. Christ is to be born in us; it is time to prepare the way, to make straight the paths, to repent, to turn, because the savior of the world is coming! The greatest gift is about to be given! The righteous kingdom is close! What greater gift than Christ born in you? What would you not do to prepare the way?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."