“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
This week we will light the first purple Advent candle for hope. The past year has definitely challenged our ability to remain hopeful. I know through the first weeks of the pandemic, my hope hinged on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel… this will just be a few weeks… well, when summer starts, it will get easier… When school starts it will get better…
By August, I noticed myself becoming increasingly irritable. I noticed it in the people around me too. Sitting in Mass one day at all the masked faces, I realized it was coming from a sense of hopelessness. The virus didn’t seem to be going away, schools were debating if they would open or not, and the fights in the political arena were getting more vicious and divisive. I couldn’t see the light anymore.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:1
No one chooses to be in darkness (or despair or hopelessness) but sometimes that is where we find ourselves. But the darkness is where we are the most attuned to God’s voice and where Jesus’s light becomes a beacon of hope. It’s hard to see even the brightest light on a sunny day, but that light brings such clarity and hope in the darkness of night!
This Advent The Well will focus on fostering the virtues of Advent – hope, peace, joy and love – in our daily lives. I think we can all agree that living these virtues has been challenging at some point in time this year. Let us welcome Jesus this Christmas by preparing the mangers of our hearts. We can begin by fostering hope.
Take a moment to talk to Jesus about what threatens your hope. What are your worries? What leads you to despair? What thoughts keep you up at night? What desires or plans are you holding on to too tightly? Ask Jesus to reveal to you what is getting in the way of you abounding in hope.
- Surrender! Start your day by surrendering your day, your plans, your expectations, and your worries to Jesus. Ask Him to fill your heart with hope, give you the eyes to see His hand in all situations, and to let Him lead. When we let God be the pilot of our life we live in the hope of His perfect plan.
- Give praise! Even when you don’t feel like it! It’s hard to feel hopeless when your heart is full of praise and rejoicing. When I cannot think of words of praise, music does it for me. I recommend creating a playlist on Spotify or YouTube for example. That way when my mind cannot think of anything positive, I only have one click to access uplifting music. Check out some of the song suggestions below.
- Invoke the Holy Spirit! At times it can be hard to be hopeful on your own. Remember, you have not been given a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, self-control and love (2 Timothy 1:7). That is the Holy Spirit. Call on his name to remove your spirit of hopelessness and ask him to replace it with a spirit of hope!
- Capture worried thoughts and offer them to God! Our thoughts are usually the cause of our worry and despair. When you feel yourself giving in to them, capture that thought and offer it to Jesus on the cross. That simple process is not only freeing but deepens our trust and friendship with our Savior. Its a process of giving up control!
- Read Scripture and claim it often! God’s sacred word is filled with words of hope and love. One of the most powerful things we can do is claim God’s promises! It is the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). By creating this habit our hearts will continually be turned toward God and the hope He desires to pour out upon us.
Scripture to Ponder:
- Romans 15:13
- Romans 8:24-25
- Jeremiah 29:11
- Romans 12:12
- Isaiah 40:31
- Ephesians 1:18
- Deuteronomy 31:6