“You’re hard wired for hope…The story of your life is a hope story…Hope, to be hope, must address and fix what is broken…Hope is a person and His name is Jesus.” [Paul Tripp]
I was always one of those children who easily “got her hopes up.” I’ve spent many a sleepless night lying in bed waiting to see what Santa would bring, waiting to go to a slumber party, waiting to see if I would get the scholarship, waiting to hear about a job, waiting to move to a new city, waiting, waiting, waiting. I think I’ve lived 95% of my life in anxious expectation of the next big thing. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve seen that if I allow it to go unchecked, it can lead to discontentment, so I’ve learned to temper it in order to live in the here and the now.
But this year…well, if this year of my life had a theme, it would be one of hoping and waiting.
Right now, my brother and sister-in-law are on a plane back to the United States from Ethiopia. Just yesterday, they appeared in court and officially adopted my new niece. Words are my business, and yet I have none to adequately express how I feel about the adoption, about their obedience, and about the God who ordained every moment of the process.
Because it’s Christmas, I’ve been pondering the beauty of this adoption slightly differently than I probably would have if it had occurred at any other time in the year. I think it makes me identify with the Advent of Christ just a little bit more than I ever have before. We have prayed for and longed for this child to be a part of our family for quite some time now. I honestly don’t know how long it has been; it just seems to be a part of our lives now. It’s who we are, and it’s what we do. Wait, pray, and hope.
And I’m no fool. I don’t see sweet Mia Grace as our family’s Savior, and I don’t place my hope in her, but I do see her as a promise of God to our family. A promise that is now being delivered. And I know that it’s only a shard, a minuscule portion of the anxious anticipation that Israel had for their long-awaited Messiah.
I also realize that if I, her single, childless aunt, feel this strongly about her arrival, then my brother and sister-in-law have ached on an even deeper level. And again, I’m left identifying with Israel. We’ve cried, and we’ve prayed, and we’ve fought off doubts and lies that the Enemy has tried to plant in our minds. And we rest our hearts in the promise that He who called us is faithful, and He will do it. He has done it.
Despite the fact that she has been declared a member of our family in court, she is not on the plane with them as they return home. It will be a little longer before they can bring her home. And so we wait again. And we pray. And we hope. And I pick up another sliver of the picture of Advent. Paul Tripp said that it’s about living in the messiness of life but holding onto hope. The already, but not yet.
When I trace my fingers along the memories of this year, I can see how God kept centering so many of my Bible studies on understanding the Old Testament in light of Christ’s magnificent story. As we await Mia Grace’s homecoming, and as I reflect on God’s promises to Israel, I try to grasp another fragment of the weight of the news of the Christ child for the people–namely that while hope is a beautiful emotion, the greater news is that Hope is a Person.
A Redeemer is coming; a Redeemer has arrived.
Glory to God in the highest!
As Christmas draws near, may we all find ourselves grateful for the Hope that came in the form of a babe in a manger, and may we walk with eyes fixed on Him as we anticipate the day when that very same Hope returns.