Advent: Week 1: The Candle of Hope

what to do in the waiting

Today, a friend texted me to ask me to pray for her daughter. She had witnessed a young man commit suicide right before her eyes. She was devastated and could not get the image out of her mind. My heart broke for her. My heart broke for the young man’s family, who will never see the month of December the same way. The loss. The emptiness they must feel. The pain. And then, my thoughts shifted to this young man. What had happened that was so bad that he felt like he needed to take his own life?

In these later days, I am constantly seeing the devastating effects of a society that lives solely from their feelings. Emotions run high and they do some regrettable thing that will alter their lives forever. Emotions get them so down, that depression sets in so quickly that it can almost go undetected. And before we know it, someone is taking their own life, because they feel so hopeless. It’s as if emotions trump reality. Emotions seem to develop irrational thinking that causes irrational behavior, with damaging results. It’s as if we don’t know how to cope with the circumstances of life anymore.

Perhaps our struggle over the battle of our emotions running the show, is due to our lack of hope.

WHEN WE HAVE NO HOPE, WE CANNOT COPE

For those who participate in Advent, many churches have four candles arranged in a circle around evergreen. Some have four purple candles with one white in the center, while others have three purple candles and one rose candle with a white candle in the center. Each week prior to Christmas day, one candle is to be lit to symbolize a certain virtue of Jesus as we await His coming.

Most of us can find no joy in waiting. And yet, the word Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” and means “an event that is to come”. An event that is to come requires waiting. And oftentimes, it is the waiting that seems so excruciatingly and painfully long.

Can you imagine God’s people and the long wait they experienced for their Messiah to come? It had been prophesied and yet they had to wait for hundreds of years for the prophecy to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

As the Christmas season draws near, I know of no one who enjoys the waiting that is involved. With long lines at every store, it seems all that the waiting does is make us impatient and irritated! We feel as though we are wasting so much time when we have so much to do! And it’s not just long lines at Christmas that cause us to hate waiting, it’s every day life! Waiting in the grocery line; waiting in the drive through; waiting for a text to come through. Even though technology may be making things faster, it seems that it is never fast enough for us! And so we….wait! But how in the world can we “wait well”? HOPE!

HOPE HELPS US WAIT WELL

The first candle lit on the Advent wreath is the purple Candle of Hope. Hope is “a confident expectancy that God will do what He says He will do“. Hope is the confidence that God keeps His promises.

Lamentations 3:25-26 says this, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” This Scripture says that it is good to both hope and wait. That word “good” means “beneficial; for our welfare; happiness” Therefore, it is beneficial to us to hope and to wait. Why were both words used? Because these two words can be used interchangeably in this passage; which means there must be hope in the waiting, and we must learn to wait in hope.

Maybe if we learn how to wait in hope, we can better cope, and not find ourselves going down the trail of emotions that take us in the wrong direction.

As we focus on the Advent Candle of Hope let’s pray this simple prayer, “Lord, I will choose to wait with hope, so that I can cope in knowing that the waiting is for my benefit, welfare and ultimately, my happiness.”

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