When I said I would write about hope during the Advent season, I thought it would be easy. Hope is a wonderful thing, right? So surely the words would flow easily, giving way to a hope-filled post.

Only, when I started to write, the words simply wouldn’t come. I wrote “Hope.” at the top of the page and it just sat there, as if it were mocking me.

You see, lately I’ve been afraid to hope. It seems like every time I get my hopes up about something, it all comes crashing down around me—my heart in the rubble right along with my hopes.

Sometimes, hope hurts.

It’s like when you were a kid on Christmas morning, expecting to run to the Christmas tree and open that gift. You know, that one you’d been asking for and hoping for, the one you thought would make Christmas morning perfect. You ripped through the wrapping paper, almost tossing away everything that wasn’t that gift. And then before you even seemed to realize what had happened, all the presents had been opened and that gift wasn’t among them. You were crushed, your hopes dashed and your heart seemingly broken to pieces. Your hopes didn’t turn out the way you planned.

Sometimes, we’re that way now—or at least I know I am. I get my hopes up about something, and things don’t go the way I had planned. I’m bad about that whole “planning” thing, and when life doesn’t work out the way I had planned, it feels like all of my hopes have been dashed.

The thing is, I forget to look around me. Just like when you were a kid on Christmas morning, I forget to see—and be thankful for—all the gifts I’ve been given. Because the truth is, our earthly hopes will be dashed over and over again. That’s simply the way this world works. What’s amazing, though, is that we have been blessed. When our earthly hopes are dashed, we need to focus on the blessing: “In light of all this, LORD, what am I really waiting for? You are my hope.” (Psalm 37: 9, VOICE translation) God is our hope, and that’s all that really matters. Despite all our failings, God gave us the most amazing gift possible—His Son.

“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.
The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 9: 6, VOICE translation)

Mandy Kilbourn