The psalmist says, “Remember Your word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:49-50).
In this world, we will face good days and bad ones. Anyone who has lived long enough can easily attest to the fact that some days are quite bad. We endure affliction from multiple sources and with varying effects.
Some suffer from the pains of bodily illness, others from mental anguish, still others from emotional distress. Some grieve the personal loss of a loved one, and others ache under the weight of needy loved ones who yet remain. Financial strain, relational dysfunction, precarious job situations, wayward children, and a slew of other crises may afflict us throughout our lifetime.
With all of this, what is the Christian’s hope? Do we hope in the words of politicians or doctors, philosophers or well-meaning friends, employers or academics? The psalmist reminds us that there is a word from God, which has the ability to create hope and give comfort… even in the midst of affliction.
What, then, is that life-giving word from God? Ah, the most glorious word from God is the promise He made to renew all things through the Savior – the suffering conqueror. Oh, such a word is blessed hope to all those who hear and believe! Though things are not now as they should be, God in Christ is making all things new! He will not leave things as they are, but He will renovate heaven and earth.
God said to the serpent of old, “I will put enmity between you and the woman [Eve], and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
It is overwhelming to measure what was lost when sin entered creation through Adam and Eve. The bleakness of death, the brokenness of relationships, and the barrenness of creation itself are all results or effects of this horrific fall. In God’s poetic response to humanity’s first sin, we hear terrifying truths.
And yet… there is also a beam of hope-filled light amid that darkness! God’s first words about the future of mankind were not condemning but restorative. Before God declared the disastrous curse, He shouted the hope-giving promise of blessing!
In this ancient account of the first sin, we find the first gracious proclamation of the good news from God. He is merciful, and He promised a rescuer, a savior, a restorer. All that was lost in the fall is gained through Jesus Christ.
Jesus restores life to the dead, He restores the joy of living to the glory of God, He restores harmony in broken relationships, and He restores the heritage of an everlasting family.
In short, Jesus is Himself the dawn of hope for all who love and trust Him.
Advent is from the Latin adventus meaning “coming.” Advent is traditionally a time when Christians memorialize the coming of Christ in His incarnation and anticipate Christ’s imminent return as cosmic judge and king.
There are various themes and traditions involved with the Advent season, but the most common in the Western world is the systematic lighting of 5 candles as part of an Advent wreath or candelabrum.
Each candle represents a feature of anticipating and celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ. Hope, love, joy, and peace are the word-themes most commonly associated with the first four candles. Each is lighted in succession over the span of 4 weeks, usually corresponding with a daily reading and prayer related to the respective word-theme and Christ’s advent.
The fifth and final candle is traditionally lighted on Christmas day. This last candle symbolizes Christ Himself, and its lighting becomes the final memorial of the Christmastime expectation and celebration. This too is usually accompanied by a reading (often the Christmas story in Luke 2) and prayer.
However you keep Christmas in your family or church, may we all intend to keep it well. For Christ has come… let earth receive her King!
*For those interested, I will be posting brief daily notes through Christmas day (see the “Advent” category on my blog). These posts will correspond to the Advent calendar and may provide helpful daily readings for you and/or your family.
May God graciously give us hearts that celebrate the King who came and anticipate the King who is coming!