By Mel Wild
As we enter into the final orbital spin toward Christmas, it brings with it a host of mixed emotions. For some, the excitement and anticipation of spending time with family. For others, a time of great pain and loneliness, disappointment, regret and loss.
What was meant to point us to the Blessed Hope can also point our hearts to feelings of hopelessness.
We as human beings cannot go forward with our lives without hope. Nor can we afford to rest our hope in all those good things that must come to an end.
What then is hope? Biblically speaking, hope is not wishful thinking; it’s having confidence in the promises of God. While faith looks backward, anchoring itself in the finished work of Christ, hope looks forward, anchored to those sure promises yet fulfilled.
This got me thinking about what Paul said in his letter to the Romans…
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:4 NKJV)
So, how does this hope that never disappoints work?
First, it never disappoints because it’s not anchored in life’s circumstances but in something much more reliable and unchanging. Its anchor keeps our hearts moored at the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor.4:6), and in the knowledge that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom…now…in this life (Luke 12:31-32).
How does this mooring keep us in hope, practically speaking?
It does so by not letting us get tossed and torn in the maelstrom of everyday life – distraction, despair, disappointment, regret, self-pity or doubt.
I’ve known people who are stuck in their woundedness; abandonment, rejection, unforgiveness, fears…what’s been done to them. This woundedness becomes like a dysfunctional friend.
While I have great compassion for people stuck here, this is never God’s will for us — continuing to wallow in this mire, barely surviving until we get to heaven. No, it’s to thrive in the stunning revelation of Jesus Christ who ever shines in the deepest part of our heart – even if our outward circumstances don’t change.
Being moored by hope also means I’m not stuck in my past, even if it’s my fond past.
There are people I grew up with who are still stuck in the “good old days” of high school – or the younger, stronger, prouder days – caught up in the nostalgia.
And I have to admit, it’s easy to check out and entertain these thoughts when we hear a favorite song or see certain movies, getting swept up in emotions that can bring such angst to our soul…reminiscing of headier days gone by. But these fond memories can also be an insidious trap lurking deep within, waiting to steal our heart and lead us away from our destiny.
It’s this hope “set before us” that continuously propels us forward in every situation life may bring our way, finding its anchor in the Spirit as we enter behind the veil.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Heb.6:19 NKJV)
Entering this Presence behind the veil is entering into the eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son in the Spirit. This is what John was inviting us into in his first letter…
“that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:3-5 NKJV)
Two things are guaranteed in this invitation.
First, that there will never be a time when we will ever be alone again. For when we say that God is Father and Son, we’re saying He is primarily about relationship and that there’s never been a time when He was ever alone.
Therefore, for us, this eternal fellowship means both that we abide in Christ in the Father’s embrace (John 15:9; 17:23; Col.3:3) and with the family of God that we can touch and see on the earth. Let this fact comfort your heart.
The second promise is fullness of joy. And this joy is not dependent on our circumstances because it’s a joy that emanates from the deepest part of our soul. And since it finds its source in the Father’s embrace, it cannot be cut off by people or anything outside of us.
Beloved of God, remember that Christmas celebrates the day that Immanuel–“God with us”– came to make His dwelling place among us (John 1:14). And now, He lives in the hearts of those who’ve accepted the Father’s invitation to join Him in the Divine Dance that’s been going on from eternity. He’s living in you and He’s for you. And in Him there is fullness of joy. And that’s a hope that will never disappoint.
Mel writes about the love and grace of God at In My Father’s House. He is a persistent advocate of the true gospel of Jesus, and an insistent edifier of our status as precious and beloved children of the Father who created us all.