The Gift of Hope
“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?"
A few months ago, I purchased a collector’s edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Then, I got busy and the book sat on a shelf for quite some time. Recently though, I have been rereading the trilogy in the evenings. There is a part near the end of the third book where Samwise Gamgee encounters Gandalf, whom he thought was dead and asks a very simple, yet profound question, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
This is the message of Advent. We have a very real and tangible hope and we long for the coming of our King who will make all things new. Even our pain, confusion, and sadness.
Now, the point is not to undervalue life in this world, but to set it in context. Our pain must be weighed in the light of eternity. Our hopes and expectations are anchored in a greater reality that is both transforming (waiting on Him) and certain (He will return). Pain does not become less real, nor is it unimportant or less difficult. Rather, because of this very real, very tangible hope, pain is limited in its reach by the knowledge that it too shall “come untrue.”
The apostle Paul and many other New Testament writers describe God as the "God of hope." The word "hope" appears 85 times in the New Testament alone, and throughout the Bible it is stressed that a relationship with God is the ultimate anchor of our hope. To the Roman church Paul wrote, "For in this hope we were saved... And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Paul anchors believers in the certainty of hope and in the need to wait for the King who will make good on His promise. The end will come, everything sad will come untrue, but until then we trust in God as we wait on His return.
This is why Advent has the potential to create in us a transforming anticipation for something better. As the writer of Hebrews reminded us in our study last fall, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf."
Because Jesus came, we can walk through the difficulty of life with a very real hope. A hope that He will return for us. A hope that one day, we will no longer have a need for hope because we will be face to face with the one in whom we placed our hope.
If you’re like me, Christmas can be bittersweet. I love the traditions with my wife and kids, gathering with our church family, sleeping in, watching sports, and even (if only for a few hours) the potential of snow. But I also carry the pain of missing loved ones, the sting of regret, and weight of disappointment. And in the midst of it all there is hope.
So, this year, as you wrestle with the bittersweet nature of Christmas in a broken world and you wonder, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” remember the King is coming and His message is simple and clear, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Advent Reading Plan
Dec 2 - Hebrews 1
Dec 3 - Isaiah 9:1-7
Dec 4 - Jeremiah 33
Dec 5 - Psalm 110
Dec 6 - John 14
Dec 7 - Luke 1
Dec 8 - Luke 2:1-14