16 Dec Advent – Having Hope at Christmas
This week’s devotional features a guest post by Alexis Scarff
May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE. – Romans 15:13
This verse ended up on our Christmas card this year. It was 11:00 p.m. on December 10th, and my husband, Robert, and I were trying to order our cards by midnight to take advantage of a coupon code for 25% off the cards. Tis the season, I literally clicked purchase at 11:59!
*Yes, we do our Christmas cards together, and yes, our marriage barely survives it each year. Maybe God uses this as an obstacle to make us stronger? This year Robert said to me, “Half of you is elegant and wants to do a classy card, and the other half wants to do a comedy routine on the card.” I need to add that to my bio – “half elegant”! Maybe I could also add “aspiring Christmas card comedian”!
During the process of co-creating the card, I couldn’t think of a verse, Christmas song lyric, clever 2019 wrap-up, or comedy routine (as some call it) to share with our friends and family. A Christmas miracle occurred and we agreed on Romans 15:13. I think this happened because we truly have experienced God fill us with joy and peace, and the Holy Spirit has caused us to abound in hope. As someone who has been depressed and hopeless, I consider it a miracle to abound in hope, especially through some of the circumstances we’ve had this year – the death of my mother-in-law, a NICU stay for our third baby, and uncertainty with Robert’s career and our future to name a few. Still, it’s been a year FULL of peace and joy. Still, we abound in hope like never before.
How can we have this hope?
Two years ago, I did a year long study of the book of Romans through Bible Study Fellowship. I’ll never forget how studying this verse, Romans 15:13, caused me to radically change the way I thought of hope by thinking about it’s true source and object in my life. My “Sunday school answer” would have been that God is the source of my hope, but was He really? Or was I looking for other things to fill me with joy and peace? The source of our hope must be God, THEN He will fill us with joy and peace. The object of our hope must also be God. As believers we hope in a God whose love and power never fail and will never disappoint. If God is the object of our faith, no matter what is happening around us, we can still abound in hope even when it looks as if that is absurd.
Why is it so important to remember this hope at Christmastime?
Before Christmas, the world didn’t have this access to God and to hope. Sarah Young says it perfectly in the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook: “God gave the world hope through a tiny baby lying in a manger.” I urge you to not forget this abounding, seemingly impossible hope when you think about Jesus coming at Christmas. I urge you to know that this hope is not only possible but also available to you RIGHT THIS INSTANT by believing and receiving Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the World.
We know who and what Jesus was when he was born. And this Christmas, when I sing my favorite lyrics in “O Holy Night,” I sing them sincerely because I know who and what He is today and what that means for the future:
“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!”
Rejoice weary world, HOPE is here!