by Maureen Alianza
I have concluded that, at our core as human beings, hope is an experience that is most necessary for our wellness of soul. Hope is feeling a state of expectation or anticipation that something in the future will be better than the present. Over the past couple weeks I have ventured toward the Old Testament and explored the words translated as hope. The most common words speak of waiting, tension and expectation. Like a cord pulled tightly, creating tension until release occurs with the breaking of the cord. Biblical hope differs from mere optimism. Optimism expects the best possible circumstantial outcome from any given situation. Biblical hope is not anchored in circumstances. Biblical hope is anchored in a person. We see over and over again, people in the Old Testament stories, and more than 40 times in the Psalms, an expectation in some of the worst circumstances that God Himself would be their sustainer and deliverer. Their experiential relationship with God becomes their ongoing hope. Hope was found in the person and presence of God alone. Those in the New Testament cultivated the same habit and too were formed in a reality that allowed hope to sustain their souls in the most difficult of circumstances. Jesus came into the world as the living hope. We join those who, from His arrival, have found a place for waiting and tension to rest. We rest in the living presence of Christ with us who stands ready to give of Himself in all of our circumstances.
Henri Nouwen offers a way to posture ourselves this Advent as we wait for the person of Jesus in the tension of expecting and in midst of all the emotions that accompany our longing for release. “Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us.”
“……someone wants to address us.”
Take a moment and make yourself available to receive from Jesus even now. He continues to come to you, sustain you, comfort you, encourage you, guide you, steady you, heal you, teach you, and save you.
How am I feeling right now? Am I tired, stressed, or a bit out of sorts? Can I take a deep breath or two or three and relax myself. Can I quiet myself and become aware of His presence? Can I rest my thoughts for a bit of time? Can I become aware that He is aware of me?
I read the Word of God slowly, a couple times over, and I listen to what He is saying to me.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
I begin to talk with Jesus about the Scripture I have just read. What part feels “personal” or stood out as I read them? Read them again. Are their personal circumstances or feelings that come to mind that these verses may be speaking to? Take a moment to talk with Jesus about these things.
End with a simple prayer of gratitude.
Yes, we hope not in circumstances but in the living person of Christ who is with us. He stands ready to give of Himself to us in all of our circumstances. We are never without hope. May this Advent be an intimate reminder of this reality.