I’ve found myself a little behind on my Advent reading, how about you? I shared a couple years ago how observing Advent was new for me until about five years ago (To read more click here.) But gracious, I have fallen head over heals into every way of observing this season of remembering the waiting, hoping, needing, and even sometimes doubting the arrival of Jesus. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
But hoping has changed for me in the past two years. When you embrace a hope of clinging onto and believing with everything that you can, when you put your whole heart on the line with no other option of believing anything else and that hope is deferred. All hope feels lost. And empty. And silly. And a waste of time.
Yet Advent, is a season of hoping, believing, and knowing that Jesus will come gently and quietly into a lost and grieving world. Amidst groans and cries for relief, his very presence whispers, “I hear you. I see you. I know. I’m coming.”
Yet in my own groans and cries, hope seemed too vulnerable to put on again. I could never again face the hurt I felt of hoping and believing with my whole heart to see healing, to see a miracle, to spend more Christmases with my Dad, and my hope was unfulfilled. It only brought to mind so many other things I had prayed, waited, and hoped for that also were unmet. Unfulfilled hopes I still carry.
But I’ve learned to see hope differently.
Hope is far more a waiting for something in a hot, sticky mess than it is a peaceful, orderly affair. – Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts
Hope is not just knowing. Hope is trusting enough to place your every bet on what may make absolutely no sense to believe.
And knowing if not, He is still good.
Hoping, vulnerably placing every single ounce of our weak and scared souls onto God fulfilling his promises is one of the absolute bravest things we can do. And for me, one of the hardest things I’ve ever recovered from.
(Warning: I will probably get some facts wrong. Friends who are knowledgable about space/science/etc. please correct me.)
On October 15, 1997 the Cassini satellite was launched on a twenty year journey. Cassini ventured further into Saturn than any other previous explorations, observing its moons that may be suitable for life and its rings.
Upon reaching its 20th year, NASA planned for Cassini not to return back to earth, as it had consistently sent all images and information back to NASA’s headquarters. Rather, Cassini concluded its pioneering through its “Grand Finale” by going further and further toward the surface of Saturn until Cassini could no longer endure the conditions.
On April 26, 2017, Cassini began its Grand Finale, sending images of Saturn as it reached closer and closer to its surface until after 20 years of discovery, Cassini’s mission was completed.
This video explained it’s Grand Finale in a way I loved. The narrator describes Cassini plunging 22 times around Saturn’s rings then making its final decent to the surface of Saturn, “fighting to keep its antennae pointed at Earth as it transmits its farewell.” On September 15, 2017 Cassini sent its last images of Saturn to NASA, concluding its 20 year mission.
If I’m honest, I think learning how to hope again, has felt significantly more like fighting with all I have toward something that feels so unsafe I may be destroyed, than it has felt simple, safe, or peaceful in any way.
Lacking the energy and sometimes faith to hope, in many situations I haven’t. And I’ve regretted walking away from loved ones who are hoping and holding onto believing in a miracle with all they have. And I’ve called that silly deep in my bones because I didn’t have the faith to claim and believe in my own miracles. I only had space to hold my unmet hopes.
But in the sweetest of ways, this Advent season has felt really different. Really hopeful.
Of sharing in the waiting of centuries. The waiting and hoping that looked much more like groaning, doubting, and grieving. And amidst that waiting, believing and knowing that “Unto us, a child [will be] born.”
Hope is vulnerable. It’s pressing deeper and deeper into our Father’s ability while simultaneously pulling us further and further from our own control, even our guarding our hearts.
But the beauty of our Father that Advent keeps bringing me back to is that He is a God who “fulfills His promises.” (Hebrews 10:23)
And as I read through the prophecies that point to the life of Jesus, God the Son, I am overwhelmed once again with how dependable and sure our hope is. How God will always prove Himself true.
And I’m writing HOPE all over my Advent book as I read:
“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
– Colossians 1:13-14, CSB
“What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, GOD DID.”
– Romans 8:3, CSB
“Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death- that is, the devil- and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”
-Hebrews 2:14-15, CSB
I’m learning to hope that my faithful Father will do what He says, even though He’s proven it time and time again, while the enemy loves to whisper the times my help felt unseen. I’m working to allow myself to vulnerably lay all my heart deeply hopes for at His feet, and to know this is what He calls me to. I’m learning to believe that I will receive, like a child who lays their head on their pillow, knowing Santa will bring them just what they asked for.
Because our faith never calls us to be logical or to trust as much as we’ve seen trust fulfilled, but to have faith like a child. A faith that cultivates hope.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Emily Katherine. On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday. You’ll find book reviews and recommendations. And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.
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