A Different Kind of Hope
For those who can’t hear me screaming on autumn Sunday afternoons (which, from what I understand, is very few of you), I am a huge Indianapolis Colts fan. Irrational might be a better word. For roughly three hours each week in the fall, my typically measured personality shifts like David Banner, scaring my dogs under the kitchen table and making my neighbors question whether they need to call the police for a domestic disturbance while I watch the game. At times, I’m not sure if this is more virtue or vice, but nonetheless, there it is.
It’s been an extra-emotional season here in our quaint Midwestern city. The Colts are just north of .500 as I type, having lost three heartbreaking games to NFL powerhouses in which they led by double digits in the second half. It’s been gut-wrenching for fans. They could easily be 10-3 and leading the AFC, and yet they are a mediocre 7-6 and currently sitting on the outside of the playoff picture needing someone in front of them to make a misstep.
But you don’t come here for sports content (right?). Don’t worry, I do have a more important point.
I’ve joked with friends that the Colts (and my Indiana Pacers this year, too) seem to know how to be ahead – sometimes way ahead – at every point in the game except the end, which is really the most important time to be ahead in a game! We live with so much Hoosier optimism for 3½ quarters, all the while knowing that the ultimate outcome will likely be disappointment and heartache.
That pessimism hit profoundly this year as I lit the first candle of Advent. The HOPE candle.
I’ve become so cynical as a Colts fan. Even up three scores, I will turn to the kids when the opponent starts advancing the ball down field with an eyeroll and caustic “here we go again!” I just know all our joy is certain to be dashed upon the rocks of another late game meltdown!
But the HOPE of Christmas is something altogether different. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophets looked forward in HOPE to the coming of the Messiah:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”
For centuries, humanity wept, and longed, and waited for His coming, most certainly wondering if the promise would ever come true. And now, 2000 years after the birth of Jesus, we can look back on that first promise fulfilled:
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
And because we can lean back fully into His first coming, we have assurance that He will most certainly do it again!
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful peasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.”
–Titus 2:11-13 (emphasis mine)
Because HOPE has been revealed, we know HOPE will be revealed! When the “final buzzer” sounds, Jesus Christ and all those in Him will most assuredly be on the winning side.
“For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”
I can’t tell you how many long, disappointing walks we’ve experienced from Lucas Oil Stadium back to the carwith our expectations dashed upon the rocks of despair. Hope in my favorite football team will most certainly leave me there, but HOPE in the Savior of the world will never disappoint. With my Colts, we go in expecting disaster. With Jesus, we go in knowing there will be victory!
This Christmas, as we ponder the longing of God’s people for the coming of the Messiah, as we light the Advent candles of HOPE, love, joy, and peace, let’s remember what God has done and rest assured in what God will do once again.
There is HOPE.
Not that my Colts or Pacers will be ahead at the end of an important game, but that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like me. When we couldn’t get to God, God came for us. This is HOPE that does not disappoint.