“A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” ~~ O Holy Night

 

Does Christmas thrill you?

 

Children get excited at the coming of the season, and often we might feel a bit of a charge through experiencing their amazement, but the chores we go through to provide that for them are often the very things that rob us from knowing the wonder for ourselves. Plan the party, trim the tree, max out the MasterCard, wrap, ship, take a trip. And that’s assuming we aren’t one of the multitudes who find themselves with a case of the Holiday Blues.

 

So if Christ’s coming into this world offers hope, and hope, as the song says, provides a thrill, how do we locate that experience amid the distraction and disillusionment of December?

 

Well that’s the cool thing about Hope. Just as total darkness can’t hold back the light of a tiny flame, so does even the smallest increment of Hope provide joy and purpose.

 

Here are a few scriptures I’ve been mulling over on the subject this month:

 

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

 

Notice the parallel between “things hoped for” and “things not seen.” Talk about a paradox; try applying “assurance” to something your five senses can’t detect. It’s a challenge. The plus side is that hope, through Christ, is available to you no matter what you see, hear, or feel. It’s above your circumstances.

 

“We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance [brings about] proven character; and proven character [brings about] hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

 

Do you ever hear people say, “I don’t want to get my hopes up” because they’re afraid of being disappointed? What would you make of Paul’s claim that “hope does not disappoint” us? Might it have something to do with what we’re hoping for or expecting?  Max Lucado thinks so:

 

“Hope is not what you’d expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale with a pinch-me-I’m dreaming ending… Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction.”[1]

 

“Love… hopes all things…but now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:7,13).