Joy of Expectation

Joy of Expectation
Image four advent candles, one lit.

When I lived in Dar Es Salaam, I used to volunteer in an orphanage. The orphanage was in a bad part of town. On the map it’s called Mburahati, but the locals call it “Kigogo,” which means “robber.” That’s the sort of place these children ended up, and there are few people willing to take them in. I was working in the home of kids 3-5 years old. There were about 20 of them, and I got to know them so well that I could sense who was standing behind me without looking. They had simple beds lined along the wall, and their sheets had a simple saying printed on them: “Ipo Siku,” which means “one day.” It was a reminder to them that someday someone might come for them. Every time they lay down, and every time they rose, the words on their beds reminded them to have hope.

Hope is hard. It takes energy to keep hope aglow, like a little ember in a human soul. The Bible says that hope fulfilled is a tree of life. The more hope we have, the greater our future joy when that hope is revealed.

Hope is hard. It takes energy to keep hope aglow, like a little ember in a human soul.

The Joy in Hope

I recently experienced how powerful the joy of a realized hope can be. This past weekend, I got engaged. My fiancé and I were so happy on the day of our engagement, and as we told others about it, we watched that joy spread. We watched the light of elation shining from so many faces—the happy tears flowing, the embraces, the congratulations. The people we told couldn’t help but turn to tell others because they wanted to share the joy even farther. Many people have been walking with my fiancé and I through the past year and a half, and our joy became their joy because they were waiting with us. When the news came, all that time and all those hopes compounded into a felicitous explosion.

The Thrill of Hope

The Sunday after our engagement was the start of Advent, a time when we actively wait on the coming of Christmas. It has made me reflect on the power of waiting—and how long the people of God had to wait on the arrival of His Son. Two families were waiting for less than two years for news of engagement between myself and my fiancé, and that has produced a joy that has already spanned many continents in just a couple of days. How much more joy was there for an entire people who had waited for generations for the coming of their Savior!

The good news of a union between two people pales in comparison to the good news of a union between Christ and His church. In the same way, as our families and friends are celebrating our engagement and looking forward to the coming wedding, so we all can pause to celebrate the coming of Jesus and look forward to His return. The good news about Christ’s birth is a double Advent: He has come, and He will come again. He came to save, and He will come to restore.

The Hope of Christ

The waiting is hard, but wait by the steady light of a promise. Christ has come to stake His claim, accomplished on the cross. He will return to finish what He started. Hebrews 9:28 says that Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of the world, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Let us therefore celebrate His birth with great joy while also looking forward with eager expectation for His return. The engagement is cause for celebration, but soon we will have our wedding!

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