Advent Two: Practicing Hope

advent-hopeTherefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. – Romans 5:1-5

We often talk about hope as if it were little more than wishful thinking. For instance, we might say, “I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow.” A sick friend sneezes on us and we say, “I hope I don’t get sick!” That’s wishful thinking, but the hope talked about in the bible is more than wishful thinking. As Christ-followers our hope is anchored in our faith in Jesus. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we discover that:

  • God’s steadfast love is for all creation.
  • Human history is moving inexorably toward renewal and restoration. Love wins!
  • The Holy Spirit empowers our lives with every breath we take.
  • There are no endings that God does not transform into new beginnings.

In the season of Advent, we open our eyes to the ways in which these promises come to light in each new day – the essence of Christ being born again into our world and into our lives, transforming all things.

Would you like more hope in your life? While hope is ultimately a gift from God it is also something that we can practice. Researcher Brene Brown discovered the truth of Romans 5 – that hope is born out of struggle. The most hopeful people are not the ones whose lives are easy, but the ones who have learned perseverance and tenacity. And through her research Brown discovered that we can practice hope in this way:

Goal + Pathway + Agency = Hope

Identifying a goal, charting a pathway to achieving that goal and believing that you can do it creates more hope in us. For instance, imagine that my goal is to be a more patient person. My pathway to becoming a more patient person is to commit to counting to 10 before responding to a frustrating situation. And what Brown calls “agency” I would call faith, a daring to believe that I do not walk alone, that God is at work through me as the Holy Spirit moves in my life and the world around me. When I think of “agency” I think of verses likes these:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Practical discipleship, the daily obedience of walking the pathway of Jesus, is a journey that births hope in us. “Come Lord Jesus” is our Advent cry of hope! How can you practice that hope in your life this week?

Want to hear more from Brene Brown on hope? Watch this.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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