Week 1 Advent Check-in
How’s your first week counting down to Christmas going? To be honest, I am finding myself playing catch-up with helping the kids find time to write the daily scriptures. I’m trying each day to establish a rhythm for working this into our daily lives, but each day’s schedule is different from the day before. Creating time in the evenings where everyone can be at the same time and place is extra challenging. Some days I feel like I need to be a master jenga player to finagle all of the events on the family Google calendar to somehow enable us to be at all of the right places at the right times with the right gear. Can anyone relate? The “December extra packed calendar” struggle is real!
However, the Lord already knew the details of our unpredictable season when He put this Advent plan on my heart. He knew I would need time to do a marathon “write the word” session to catch up this week’s focus on “hope.” Instead of seeing the Lord as a harsh Father, disappointed in what we didn’t accomplish yet, I am learning to see Him as a loving Father who wants more than anything to spend time together with us in His word. He wants His truths to live inside of us, guiding us to our see daily lives through His perspective. Writing the word changes our perspective to see things as God sees them.
As I carved out sometime last Sunday afternoon to catch up, I realized why the Lord needed me to write this week’s verses out one right after another. One of my favorite ways to dig into God’s word is to read different translations of the same verse. Some of my favorite go to translations are Amplifi ed, CSB, ESV, NASB, NIV, and NLT. If you are using YouVersion’s Bible app, when you type in the verse, you can click along the side of the verse’s location to toggle between different translations. I encourage you to explore each verse completely and in its context, but for the brevity needed for a blogpost, I want to highlight a few phrases from each verse(s).
Common Thread Woven through the Bible
Although the verses that Tracie chose for us are located in both the Old and New Testaments, when I looked up each verse in a few different translations, I noticed a commonality with the way the Amplifi ed version translated each verse:
- Romans 8:24-25 “…if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance”
- Isaiah 8:17 “I will wait for the Lord…I will wait eagerly for him.”
- Romans 8:20-21 “The hope of all creation will be set free from slavery and corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
- Psalm 39:7 “And now Lord, for what do I expectantly wait? My hope is in You.”
- Psalm 130:5-7 “I wait patiently for the Lord, my soul expectantly waits, and in His word I have hope.”
- 1 Peter 1:3 “He gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrecction of Jesus Christ.”
- Romans 5:18: “May the hope of God fil ll you with all joy and peace.”
In each of these passages, God’s people found hope for their futures through waiting eagerly, expectantly, and patiently for His provisions. Taking the time to physically write out these words made the words “wait eagerly,” “expectantly wait,” and “in His word I have hope” almost leap up off the page.
Let’s continue this reflection a step further and think through how the Holy Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas, reveals the fruit of the spirit in each of these passages:
To be hopeful is to have the Godly fruit of the Spirit of patience working in and through our lives. We can’t be truly hopeful in our own human strength. To be hopeful means that even though our situation may seem impossible or our challenge may seem to never end, we expectantly wait for the Lord to work all things for His glory and our good.
Thinking through this lens opened my eyes to what “hope” really means.
Worth the Wait
In each of these passages, the writers: David, Isaiah, Paul, and Peter all look forward to the first or second coming of Christ. Although they couldn’t anticipate when the moment would arrive, they knew that above all, their Lord was trustworthy, faithful, and kind. They fully believed that His timing was worth the wait. They knew deep down that the Lord would not leave us in chaos caused by sin. He would redeem, restore, right all of the wrongs that happened after sin entered the world in Genesis 3.
Friend, I am not sure what type of season of waiting you find yourself in this Christmas season? For me, I am in a physically painful season of waiting for answers to find out some discs in my lower back that are causing pain and numbness to spread throughout my right leg and foot. This isn’t what I expected this season to look like, but even in the midst of immense physical pain, I confidently believe that my back injury didn’t surprise the Lord. One of the fir rst medicines the doctor prescribed to me was a set of strong steroids for the purpose of relieving the inflammation on my back. With the inflammation down, the intense sharp shooting pains decreased, enabling me to withstand additional tests and the longer period of waiting for answers to solve the root problem of my pain. The steroids didn’t heal me, but they did enable me to keep pressing forward each day, waiting for full healing to come.
Taking these steroids make me realize that sometimes in life, we need a high powered dose of spiritual steroids to help us believe that healing is possible. Though this doesn’t come in the form of daily medication, when we spend time with the Lord in His word and ask Him to show us how He is working through our lives, this experience relieves the mental and spiritual inflammation we may feel while walking through challenging situations.
As the Lord has been working throughout the last few months to help me find medication, tests, and physicians, He continues to help me figure out how to do more than just mask the pain that I am dealing with. The physicians He is placing on my path are working to heal my pain from the source of the injury and not just treat the side effects.
Sometimes we need a similar plan of action for our mental and spiritual health as well. Allowing the Lord to soften the parts of our souls that feel betrayed, abandoned, or unvalued. Once our souls are softened, then we can locate the source of the pain and work through the situation in healthy, life-giving ways.
Becoming Hopeful People
My prayer for you, friend, is no matter how painful this Christmas season might be for you, I pray you are able to determine the source of your pain and allow the Great Physician to heal you from the inside out, too. I pray that He will give you supernatural steroids for your faith to turn patience into hopefulness. This season may not look like you anticipated either, but just like God brought His Son into the world in unexpected ways and timing, He still works miracles in our lives today. Being patient is not something that comes naturally to most of us. But it’s the supernatural patience that only comes from the Holy Spirit that we need in order to become hopeful people. We need that intense dose of patience to change our perspective from only seeing our struggles to seeing how the Lord can use our struggles to create good outcomes in our lives.
May the Lord fill us with the supernatural hope that only He can create and sustain inside of us. May He increase our faith to have the patience needed to become hopeful. Then maybe this season will be a time we will both look back and see how the Lord gave us a spiritual dose of patience steroids, so we can wait expectantly with hope, too.