Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–22
The people of God have always been an expectant people — a people called to live a life of faithful waiting, consciously blessing and seeking the good, not just of themselves, but of others, even those who would be enemies. This reality gives us hope, because we know that there is something bigger going on.
Hope is the fuel that sustains us. Hope has the power to free us from the slavery of hopelessness and regret. Regret is a prison in the past that prevents from living in the now. Hopelessness is a prison in the present that prevents from moving to the future or also from living in the now. Hope holds the keys to our chains.
Hope is not based on “I hope things get a little better,” “I hope things turn out good for me,” “I hope my health holds out,” “I hope my marriage works,” “I hope my job provides.” Our Hope is based on one thing: There is a God, and he has a Kingdom. And his plan is for that Kingdom to break in right here, right now, in ways they look like it does in heaven. And we get to be a part of it, we are not on the sidelines. We are called to be active participants, cooperative friends seeking to advance that Kingdom; a reality right here, right now, starting in myself, in my kingdom, in my world.
Hope is learned and lived into through conversational walking with God, thanking him for what he has given – a spirit of rejoicing because of the hope that he gives, jumping into this with faith and trusting his promises from throughout the Old and New Testament. Hope is the a way of being, a posture and a grid through which we evaluate all other expectations in our lives – at Christmas and throughout the year.
The good news is that the work has been done, and is being done by God in us. Our job is to believe it and claim it, to jump in and hold on. And if we do, we will experience the peace, joy, love, and hope which God promises, and that flow from what Jesus has done and who we are in him.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24