Learning about Hope

Lots of times people will use kids waiting for Christmas as an illustration of how the Christian should hope in the Lord. You hear it all the time and there is definitely something to it but all illustrations fall apart at some point and we shouldn’t take that one farther than it actually goes.

This is what I mean. It’s December 26. We had a great Christmas morning yesterday. Kristen made some yummy treats for breakfast. Everyone was up early with excitement. There was the air of anticipation throughout the house as you would expect. I suppose it was around 9am when we finally started opening some presents but there was an almost tangible hope in the atmosphere until the very last present was opened.

Today it’s a day later. At 8:10 I am the only mouse stirring. I know everyone was grateful for their presents and very pleased to see the generally high level of care given to each gift that was chosen (except for the regifting of baked goods by someone who shall remain nameless!). When people do get up some of the fun stuff received will be fully enjoyed.

It’s just that a rice cooker or a makeup kit doesn’t quite get you out of bed the way hope does. It doesn’t mean that hope in Christmas morning revelry isn’t real, it just means that it is inadequate to sustain someone past a certain point. It’s a hope that can be fully realized in a moment.

That’s where the illustration really breaks down. The Christian hope is an eternal hope and I suspect that it may only intensify as time goes on. As we see Christ face to face and start to really understand who He is and what He has done for us, we will be all the more eager to participate in that hope because for the Christian, hope is a person not an event. We get to enjoy that person long after Mario Kart gets old.

Even more than that, the Christian’s hope is equally shared across all believers so it can be mutually enjoyed in a way that a makeup kit or Nerf gun cannot. Our earthly hopes are not interchangeable as if we could mix up the tags on the presents and everyone would be just as content. (This actually happened on one gift and produced a funny moment.) We share the hope in Christ, and as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, there is a sense where part of our hope is built up in one another (For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?)

So by all means keep looking forward to Christmas and keep using it as an example of what it means to look forward to the union with Jesus that awaits every believer, but remember it is but a poor shadow of the real hope that we have.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

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