A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices…
I can think of no better way to describe the state of our world than this line from “O Holy Night”—we are a weary people. Coming from what feels like almost two years of constant uncertainty, tragic events, and division over countless issues, I see that many people, including myself, are tired. There is a weariness that has set in with the burden of living in a broken world. But also, as the song states, there is a hope we have as believers that leads us to rejoice in the midst of weariness. This hope is so much more than simply thinking about the better times that will come. It invades every corner of our lives, transforming us in the most beautiful way. And now, during this Advent season, is a fitting time to not only meditate on this hope that we are given, but also to unequivocally cling to it.
We are born to a living hope.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
– 1 Peter 1:3–9
As I have been reflecting on the birth of Christ this season, I keep coming back to the truth of 1 Peter 1:3. Jesus was born as the hope of this world, and we also have experienced a birth, or a rebirth, to a living hope. As the verse states, this hope is not stagnant, but living. It is not a feeling of excitement, but an expectation of an assured reality.
This reality has struck me in a fresh way as I’ve been praying through what it looks like to exercise and apply it in our daily lives as believers. Just as we bear the name of the family we are born into as children, we bear hope as a marker of our identity when we are born into the family of Christ. And this hope that we have is living, indeed, it is Jesus Christ Himself. Because of this, we hope not as the world does—marked by wishful longing—but with the assurance that in Christ, every wrong will be made right, every broken thing will be restored, and that our final destination is eternal delight in the fullness of His presence. I feel it is important to start here when reflecting on hope—recognizing it as a position and a standing we are born to, instead of a circumstance we are simply yearning for. Truly, when we cling to hope, we are not clinging to an abstract concept, but to Jesus Himself. And that is why we are able to rejoice in the midst of weariness.
When we are in seasons of weariness, it is the hope we’ve been given that tends to our tired souls and transforms the way we see the world around us. The reality is, we are not made blind to the troubles of this world, nor do we escape affliction when we become believers. We know that we will still encounter brokenness throughout our days and go through trials that can make it difficult to see beyond our current situation. Being born to hope calls us not to ignore the brokenness or simply bear down through trials, but to hold fast to Christ in the midst of it all. Hope calls us to bring to mind that, although there may be a storm or waves surrounding us, we trust in and are held by the One who calms both at the sound of His voice.
Being born to a living hope gives us a new identity. We are no longer identified by our weariness or brokenness, but by our hope.
Our living hope transforms how we live.
The living hope we are born to not only changes how we face trials, but also how we walk through daily life. Now born again, we have a new identity as agents of hope to the weary world around us. Others will see and wonder how we rejoice in the midst of weariness and we get to offer them our living hope. We offer, not wishful and positive thinking, but an assurance of what is to come through Christ. Our calling now is not to merely cling to hope and hide it away, but to participate in the hope we have been born to, by displaying it for others. Knowing what is to come should spur us on to live differently in the present. Knowing that one day we will dwell in perfect unity with each other and Christ encourages us to strive for unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ today. Knowing that one day our only occupation will be to worship God, calls us to begin our eternity of worship today. This example applies to a multitude of daily realities.
Our hope is to come, yes, but it is also already here because we are in Christ. We hold the paradox that the work was both finished through His birth, life, death, and resurrection and will be finished upon His return. Our living hope is behind us, before us, and also around us. And in this season of Advent, my prayer is that we would learn, evermore, to cling to and participate in this hope we have been born to as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our living hope.