Advent 4: Pressing on . . . in hope
If these are not challenging days, one wonders what other time can be so described. There is so much available to make life easy in ways beyond the imagination of the yesteryears. Yet, people are constantly overwhelmed. Indeed, in the midst of all the abundance, some have decided to end it all – by committing suicide. That is not a wise option. We must remember the common saying that if there is life, there is hope. This common-sense dictum counsels us to hang in there and persevere. That is why we are dwelling on the need to press on in this holy season of Advent. Don’t quit. There is more distance to cover, and there is more grace to draw from God.
The tears of our days are many, but there are also songs. When we consider what is absent, let us also remember what is available. When we embark on the Christian life, we have access that gives us joy. See how apostle Paul puts it: “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
This joy is rooted in our hope of God’s glory. We must not relate with the issues of life like people without hope. Of course, when one is faced with the rocky paths of life, hope sounds quite abstract and a far cry. In Advent, we must wade through the thickets of life’s challenges – those boulders of discouragement that seek to crush us. We can dare to hope. Yes, we can. This is not just baseless optimism, but hope that is rooted in a God Who cannot be shaken and whose promises cannot fail. Paul is not ignorant of that either, and he has something to say from experience: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). It is natural, therefore, for us to move on from pressing on in character to pressing on in hope. Advent rekindles our hope in a God Whose plans are intact, in a future that is sure, in a destination that is described as the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10; John 14:1-2).
And now, the final words about hope from Paul’s pen:” and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). That Advent precedes the special celebration of Christmas, and the many other special moments is a reason to look forward with hope in God, and trust Him for better things ahead. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
A sure way to press on in hope at this time is to embrace closely, the promises of the Lord’s return. Christ will come again; He will judge the world; He will reward His faithful ones. Let us hope in Him, for this hope never makes us ashamed, when all is over.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja