Hope is traditionally the first word we reflect on during advent. If you use colored candles for your advent celebration, hope is represented by one of 3 purple candles.
Here is a devotion you can do with your family to celebrate HOPE this advent season.
Ask: What does hope mean to you? Use hope in a sentence. (let everyone share) Share a time when something you hoped for happened, or didn't happen.
Read Scripture: Ask 2 people to read these verses:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Teach: When the Bible speaks of hope, it's not the same as our kind of hope. We say, "I hope it doesn't rain!" And we know it might, and it might not. Our kind of hope is sort of a "wish." When the Bible speaks of hope, it is talking about being certain of something that is going to happen with God's grace.
This kind of certainty that we will experience God's goodness in our lives affects the way we feel about our lives when we're going through hard times. If we know God's out to do good things for us; and that we don't ever have to walk alone; or come up with ways to fix things on our own--that is hope. And that kind of hope is a powerful encouragement to have!
It's this hope that God promises to give us in Jeremiah 29:11 and this hope that will fill us with joy and peace (no matter what's going on). Romans 15:13 says that the Spirit of God has the power to make this kind of hope "abound" in us!
Ask: What does that mean? How would living with "abounding hope" affect how you feel today? Now that you know God promises to give you this kind of hope, what can you do?
Teach: Of course, the Bible isn't telling us that we won't have hard times. It's just telling us that when those hard times come we can have hope in God. Perhaps you feel like David felt when he wrote this to himself,
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
Do you believe you will get through what you're going through now? I do! And when we get through the hard things in life, we will yet praise God, our Savior and our God.
Pray: Thank You, LORD for encouraging us to place our confidence in You. Thank You for pouring hope into our hearts. Because You sent Jesus to live with us, then die for our sins, and resurrect from the grave, we have HOPE. We choose to trust You as we wait for all that You have promised You will do in our lives. Amen.
Here's a poem (kind of a poem) that gives you something to think about as you put your hope in the LORD:
What if the seemingly endless delay
Is full of gifts you wouldn’t receive any other way
What if walking in the wilderness IS the point,
What if waiting in the stillness IS the joy
What if the roots need to burrow down deeper
So the fruit will be that much sweeter
What if the waiting makes the heart grow stronger
Just as absence makes the heart grow fonder
What if it’s less about getting to the other side
And more about the slow transformation taking place deep inside
What if the best things don’t happen overnight
And time is actually on your side
What if you really (truly) are not in control
And all you can do is let it unfold
What if God hasn’t forgotten His plans for you
He’s simply inviting you to lean in and pay close attention to what He is about to do
What if, when it seems like nothing is happening at all,
That’s right when God is saying, I Am Still Faithful
What if it looks really different than you thought it would,
But even then, it could still be really, really good.
And here’s a prayer to close:
Lord, I desire more of You. There are so many “what if” questions in my life—help me to look to You before I look inward. Father, would You remind me of Your character, of Your incredible goodness. My hope is in You—teach me to draw close. Amen.
(This was reprinted from For Those Who Wait) Go listen to the Leighann McCoy podcast and hear my conversation on HOPE.