Advent – The Promise
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In this week’s devotional, I want to lay out two principles about hope found in Isaiah 59. Here’s the first – the doorway to hope is hopelessness. It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? But the only way you will ever find true hope is to give up on all those places where you’ve put your hope before. Our default is to find hope horizontally, in the situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life. How many times have you thought, “If only I had ______”? Or, “If only I lived _____”? That’s finding your hope horizontally.
You’re not going to meet a person who will give you life. No one can give you the peace and security you’re seeking. You’re not going to get a job that will make life worth living. You’re not going to own a possession that will give you the happiness that you seek. You’re not going to have an experience that will fulfill you. It’s all horizontal hope, and before you can find true, life-giving hope, you need to reach a point of hopelessness.
Here’s the second principle – to be reliable, hope needs to fix what is broken. Hope must address the biggest, deepest, and darkest dilemma of our life. Isaiah 59:2 tells us what is broken. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Just as horizontal hope will fail us, a horizontal diagnosis will miss what is truly broken. I like to think that my biggest problem in life exists outside me, not inside me. I want to say my problems are situational, locational, or relational. But they’re not. My biggest problem is vertical and personal.
There is something that lurks inside me that is dark and dangerous – sin. It kidnaps my thoughts, diverts my desires, and distorts my words. Only Christ can fix this problem. No horizontal hope can ever fix a vertical problem. So God promises to send His son as the vertical and ultimate solution. “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression (59:2).”
That’s the Christmas story. The Christmas story is about hope coming. That’s why the angels sing the glorious song that we’ll focus on next week. That’s why the wise men came to worship. That’s why the shepherds were blown away. Hope had invaded the earth in the person of the Lord Jesus. Hope had come.
This Advent season, celebrate the true, life-giving source of Hope. And remember, hope is never a situation. Hope is never a location. Hope is never an ideology. Hope is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ.
•Name some situations, locations, and relationships that our culture defines as sources of hope.
•Reflect on times when you searched for hope in the wrong places. What was the outcome?
•Reflect on times when you relied on Christ as your only source of hope. What was the outcome?
•Who in your life is in need of Hope? How can you use the Advent season to share Hope with others?
Paul David Tripp