Some things we hope for and they don’t pan out. For example, I hoped the Denver Broncos would win the Super Bowl last year, but they lost in an embarrassing fashion.
Some things we hope for and they don’t happen right away, but they eventually come about. After I graduated from college, I hoped to get a teaching job. I didn’t one that first year, but the following year I got the job I would stay in for over thirty years.
Some things we hope for but we learn they will never happen. I had a friend who lost three babies. Eventually the doctors discovered she had trouble carrying infants to term because of a drug her mother had taken when she was pregnant with her. No matter how much my friend hoped for her own child, she was not able to give birth.
And then there are the things we hope for and we are still hoping. They haven’t happened yet, but we have every reason to continue hoping. We’ve been hoping for rain here in SoCal. All last year we hoped but received little precipitation. This year we again have hopes we’ll at least see a normal amount of rainfall. It’s reasonable to think this drought will come to an end, so we hope.
In the first instance and in the third, hope dies. In the first, we hope for a single event, a specific something—Mr. Tall and Charming will ask me to the prom, or I’ll get both Christmas Eve and Day off of work. There’s a definite period of time when we know if what we hoped for has happened or not.
In the third, a door closes. The divorce is finalized and the spouse remarries; the university you hoped to go to doesn’t accept you. These are the ends of dreams.
The second and fourth scenarios are hope that doesn’t disappoint. Many, many writers hope to find an agent and hope the agent will sell their manuscript. They may wait for years and years, but eventually, these writers see their hopes come to fruition. These are people who fall into the second category.
What about the fourth? These are people still waiting. They have done their job faithfully, waited for an opening for promotion, and are still waiting. For some reason, they have been passed over a time or two, but they have no reason to believe it is a situation that won’t change. Their time will come. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers was in such a situation when he waited behind Brett Favre for his chance to start.
But here’s the thing about hope. If you’re in scenario number two or four, it’s easy to think you’re headed for scenario one or three. It’s easy to think you’ve hoped in vain and that you’d be foolish to keep on hoping.
The Jewish people were in that situation in the first century. They’d been hoping for the coming of their promised Messiah. They looked at the political arena, and they knew they needed Him to come and set them free from Roman rule. He’d come, they were sure, and put Israel back on the map as an independent nation. He’d rule in justice and righteousness.
And they waited. And waited. And waited.
At some point you’d have to begin to question. Did he come and we missed him? Was the promise nothing but a lie? Did God change his mind?
That’s where Christmas comes in. God fulfilled His promise . . . sort of. He fulfilled it and He is fulfilling it. The Messiah came and He is coming.
Right up to the point of the resurrected Christ’s ascension into heaven His followers were still wondering about the completion of their hope:
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
Not for you to know when your hope will be complete, Jesus answered them. Then He gave them another promise—one they would see fulfilled immediately which would give them assurance while they waited for that for which they hoped. He promised them the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit came.
Consequently Paul could write to the church in Rome
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. (Rom. 5:5)
There are so many passages in the Bible about hope. Together they paint an exciting picture—one of assurance yet longing, of joy and love about to be experienced in their fullest some day soon.
This kind of hope—God’s gift to us through the process of tribulation which brings about perseverance and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope—does not disappoint.
We’re not hoping we go to heaven. We have God’s assurance. We are reconciled with God, we do have everlasting life, we have been saved. But salvation is just not something we have taken possession of yet—not completely.
We hope for what we know we have, reserved in heaven for us. Though we do not see it now, we hope for that which the Holy Spirit confirms is ours.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Rom. 8:23-25)
Advent season is one of those memorials that help us in the waiting. We remember Christ’s birth and we hope for that day when He will come again in power and glory. It’s a stepping stone that reminds us our hope does not disappoint.