If I could offer someone in difficult circumstances any two gifts I'd give them hope and joy.
And as Christmas comes this year the two gifts I would like to give any and everyone are hope and joy. I haven't seen these gifts on sale in any local stores or online--but I understand God gives these gifts away freely along with the promise of new life in Jesus.
Hope is at the very heart of following Jesus. The simple truth is we live--on this side of eternity--in hope of seeing God's kingdom come. And we live with joy knowing someway and somehow that is with us. Hope is a gift for us while we pray and live, not just watching time pass, but yearning for signs and glimpses of God moving--of God's will being done among us. Psalm 25:3 speaks of this kind of hopeful waiting. Rolf Jacobson writes
The term “wait” here translates the Hebrew word qawah, which means both to “wait” and to “hope.” The waiting described here isn’t just waiting, like one waits for a meeting to start. It means more to wait and hope, like the sort of waiting one does in a hospital waiting room while a loved one is undergoing surgery, or perhaps the sort of waiting one does while waiting for a verdict to be handed down, or again, perhaps the kind of waiting one does after one has put in an offer to buy a home.Hoping and waiting is part of daily walking with Jesus and living into our identity as his followers. Sometimes it's uncomfortable--but here's where the promise of hope is like a spring of joy in our lives. Hope look even at an apparently dead branch and sees something new. Jeremiah said as much to the people in Jeremiah 33:14-16. He looked ahead and saw the promise of new life for an ancient line. Joy is found in our identity as God's people. The circumstances might look dire--but the identity as God's people, as people of promise and hope--that's the source of joy.
May the promise of God's kingdom and the hope to see His salvation fill us with joy. AMEN.
Peace and thanks for reading, John.