Scripture: Romans 5:1-5
The nineteenth century, philosopher, Frederick Nietzsche wrote that a man could endure any HOW so long as he has a WHY. But even though he was a radical atheist who was wrong about many important things, at least on this point, Nietzsche rightly hit the mark. What Nietzsche meant was that as long as people have a big enough purpose or compelling enough reason they are willing to endure any situation, however painful or difficult. In other words, so long as people have hope they can endure any trial.
The Greek word for hope is “ελπιç” (pronounced “el-pis.”) It does not describe anxious waiting, as a nervous fan might feel in the final moments of a tense ball game. Elpis is no empty wish for an uncertain outcome. Elpis is an eager expectation brimming with confidence in the good things God will do. Biblical hope looks forward to the future fulfillment of God’s promises.
Advent isn’t just a season of Hope. Advent is a season of Hope Fulfilled. It is a time when we remember the fulfillment of the coming of the Christ – God’s Anointed One – the Messiah – who was long foretold by the prophets. Advent is a season of Expectant Hope for even greater promises still to come. Advent is a season of both remembering and anticipating God’s promises.
It is in light of these promises that we can have hope in the face of difficulties and trials. Because of Christmas, we who have faith in Jesus, now stand in the grace of God’s marvelous gift of salvation from death and hell. We celebrate and rejoice in the hope of God’s glory, knowing that there is nothing that can separate us from His omnipotent love. “And not only that,” as Paul continues, “but we also glory in (our) tribulations,” knowing that as we persevere in faith that God will richly reward our faithful abiding in His Spirit. Christmas redeems the trials we encounter with everlasting purpose. If we do not lose heart, and if we make the Lord Himself our reward through every difficulty and suffering we will have a Hope that will never disappoint.
This Advent, let us renew our Hope. Let us be re-Minded of God’s faithfulness. Let us rejoice in the free gift of salvation. But let us recall our commission to redeem the time. And let us rejoice again in anticipation of His good reward for our faithful perseverance through present tribulations. Because of Advent, we have all the Hope we need to overcome any trial we face.