A hard truth—the kind that makes us wince—might not be the best way to start off a Christmas devotional, but just hang with me as I explain: Hope takes a lot of work. Yes, Jesus brings us ultimate hope, but like many aspects of Christian faith, living with hope doesn’t always come easily. The story of our faith might include some scenic sunny days on the Sea of Galilee, but it is based on a cross. We know, if we’re honest, that the journey is not going to be easy, so let’s digest some truths that can nourish us and build up this thing called hope.
In Ephesians 1, Paul writes to the church about the reality of hope and how it isn’t tied to anything that the church itself can accomplish. That offers some relief: It isn’t about what we can do. No, hope takes the stage when the church stops trying to pull it off themselves and places their hope instead in the power of Christ and his authority over all things.
It sounds simple to just “let go and let God,” as the pithy tagline goes, but think again. Try to remember the last time that you had to stop trying to pull things off on your own and allow someone to do it for you—work projects, parenting, or even your own ministry. This level of trust and release of control can feel next to impossible. We love to say that we place our hope in Jesus, but it’s so much easier to place our hope in our own skill sets and abilities. That’s why hope takes work, because it is work to let go of control.
Realizing the limits of my own strength helps me rely on Jesus to be the author of hope in my life. In Ephesians 1:19, Paul speaks of the immeasurable greatness of God’s power. In comical contrast, I wake up each morning in my 49-year-old body and I limp. Sleep is now apparently a contact sport, and when I go to the gym, my goal is to stretch enough to not be sore when I get up the next morning. My strength has limits. But Ephesians makes it clear that the strength of the one who actually gives us hope is immeasurable. There are no limits to his greatness and power. None. That is truly something we can all place our hope in, no matter the circumstances.
Here’s the kicker: The authority of our all-powerful King has actually been bestowed on us out of the riches of his grace, and it lives inside us as Christians. We can tap into the authority of our creator this Christmas season to allow his strength to flow in and through us. In the midst of all the hubbub of the season, with the inevitable weary minds and sore bodies, allow your hope to be found in his strength and authority. It’s better that way.
Carlos Whittaker is a storyteller, speaker, and author of Moment Maker, Kill the Spider, Enter Wild, and his latest release, How To Human.
This article is part of The Eternal King Arrives, a 4-week devotional to help individuals, small groups, and families journey through the 2023 Advent season . Learn more about this special issue that can be used Advent, or any time of year at http://orderct.com/advent.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.