Sunday, November 27, 2022

First Sunday of Advent - Hope

According to Greek mythology, humankind was introduced to trouble and woe due to the curiosity of Pandora. If you remember the myth, Pandora was given a box and told not to open it. Of course, curiosity got the better of her and she opened the box. Evils of all kinds escaped the box and have plagued all of us since. The one thing that remained in the box was hope. It didn’t try to leave.

When you think back to Adam and Eve, our fallen world had its beginning in their disobedience. All of the trouble and woe we face today can easily be traced back to that moment in the garden. Instead of heeding God’s warning, they allowed themselves to become disobedient. For their action, they were cast out of the garden and had to toil and sweat for everything. They no longer were able to just enjoy the fruits of the garden. From that moment on, they had to work hard for everything. But, God already had a plan in place that would give the world hope in the midst of darkness. That plan came to us in the flesh and lived among us.

Hope is the one thing that keeps us going when there isn’t anything left and we are physically, mentally and spiritually drained. We literally have nothing left. There are a couple of things that we can do. We can choose to give up or we can turn to God. In Him, we find hope and strength to carry on even if it is only one day at a time.

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, her world crashed down around her. Everything that she had worked so hard for was gone. However, she knew one thing that would get her through the tough days ahead, hope and her faith. She survived each treatment of chemo and each session of radiation only through her faith in God and her hope. I prayed for a miracle and hoped for remission. For a brief period of two months, she was in remission and the cancer that consumed her body was gone. However, when it returned, it returned with a vengeance and ultimately took her life. She remained faithful and full of hope all the way to the end.

One could argue that her hope didn’t work out for her. I would argue differently. Yes. She hoped for a miracle, but her hope also helped her take the next step in long, long days. There were many times when I took her to her chemo sessions. I witnessed firsthand what chemo does to the body. I am sure that medicine has made great strides and has lessened the side effects to a great extent. But, there are no guarantees when it comes to treatment. Relapses happen. 

As I struggled with my bone infection, I was told that there was a twenty-five percent chance that I would have another equally horrific or worse return of the infection. When I asked one of the twenty-five original doctors from the team who worked tirelessly to save me, why this had happened, he told me that I was the one in a million. He told me that things just happen. Down the hall from me was another person going through something similar. He wasn’t as bad as I was, but he was in a coma.

The noted English poet, translator, and satirist of the Enlightenment era, Alexander Pope, wrote in his poem, “An Essay on Man”, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

God gave us the gift of hope. Hope keeps us going and looking to a brighter future. That brighter future is eternal life with the Father. No matter what we face here on earth, it can never take away our hope. Hope remains with us as long as we continue to hold on to it. We can keep it locked safely in our heart or we can just let it go flying away. 

It is solely up to us to decide how we are to live our lives. We can live in despair or we can live life in full measure knowing that we have a mansion in the sky with our Heavenly Father.

Paul, in chapter four of his epistle to the Galatians, writes, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

The hope for all came to this dark world over 2,000 years ago in the form of a small child born to a virgin in humble surroundings. There was no coronation or ringing of bells. Those that were there were humble shepherds, common folk and kings. No matter what their station in life, they all came to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. His humble birth and life were prophesied so long before his birth. It was faith and hope that kept many holding fast in search of that light would give the world a chance to walk in light rather than continue in darkness.

On this first Sunday of Advent and through the rest of this week, I ask you to think about the hope that was given to us out of love. The hope that fills our hearts and souls and gives us the strength to face every challenge and every downturn with the knowledge that there is a better place. Hope truly does spring eternal for us all when “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

By doing that, we can stand firm in His grace and weather the storms that beset us on all sides.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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