Advent Week 1: The Audacity of Hope
Written by Nick Braunschneider, Leader’s Collective Church Planter, Bethesda Church, Orlando FL
Read Romans 4:18-22
My family has a saying in our home that we repeat to one another almost daily: “I just never lost hope!” We will say it to each other when one of us overcomes a particular difficulty, like learning to ride a bike, shooting a basketball and hearing the ball “swish” through the net for the first time, or completing a tedious school project. We repeat it when we team up to accomplish small victories, like the afternoon last year when I ascended our rickety metal ladder with a 7-foot Christmas tree storage box resting precariously on my shoulder, straining to squeeze it through the too-small opening to our attic.
“I never lost hope” has become our family motto. Most of the time it is meant to be playful, shouted after I successfully level a freshly hung picture on the wall, or when my wife stretches on her tippy-toes to secure our tree topper. But the message communicated in our simple saying is important. I want my kids to grow into men and women who never give up, people who never lose hope. I want to be this kind of person; I want it for my wife as well.
The Apostle Paul tells us when God’s word of promise was given to Abraham —’Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed’ (Genesis 28:14)— Abraham held onto it, and “In hope, he believed against hope…” (Romans 4:18a). If I am honest, I am not all that acquainted with this kind of hope.
Mine is of the more fragile sort, often ruled by my circumstances.
I see the uneven legs of the ladder I’m standing on, I feel the sway back and forth as I take the next step up, my back becomes fatigued as the tote pushes down on me, and my mind keeps telling me the rectangular container has no chance of fitting through the square opening in the ceiling.
Circumstances have a powerful way of turning our certainties into uncertainties…and in the process, killing our hope. Almighty God offers you and me something greater, something truer, something that cannot be moved. The kind of hope that He wants to give us is Christian hope — a gift of the Spirit that enables us to look beyond logic, past experiences, and even the very laws of nature, and simply take God at His word. “In hope, [Abraham] believed against hope…”
The divine promise that grounded Abraham’s hope is ultimately rooted in a Person. It did not culminate in the birth of Isaac his son, but in the birth of Jesus the Christ, who is “The embodied Grace of God, our blessed Hope, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11, 13). This Advent season, Jesus is calling you deeper and higher, into a life of audacious hope in Him.
Prayer: O Lord our God, make us, Your beloved children, who are called by Your name, to be sons and daughters who are marked by an unshakeable hope in You. Give us hope that enables us to trust that every word that proceeds from Your mouth will be accomplished. And may our hope cause us to laugh at the days to come, without fear of the future, rejoicing that with every moment that passes, our final redemption is nearer than when we first believed. Thank You that no one who puts their hope in You will ever be put to shame. For You are gracious, O Lover of souls, and to You we give glory —Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— now and forever. Amen.