By Shannon Youell
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.”
This plea, this lament from Psalm 13 written by the Hebrew David, King of Israel, may resonate with you—perhaps from a time when circumstances were bleak, dreary, seemingly endless and without any hope of changing.
Perhaps this is how you feel right now.
David’s lament, one of many poured from the depths of his soul, reminds us how easy it can be to lose hope when we are not seeing or experiencing the promises of God that we long to know. It is the sad reality of our humanness: it is easy to lose hope.
I suspect, however, that when we do lose hope, it is likely because that hope is dependent upon some kind of determined outcome, some kind of action, some kind of mystery, miracle, provision. How many times have we, in lamenting prayer, reminded God of His promises towards us as a passive-aggressive way to demand they be so for us now. For us, disappointment denotes the absence of hope fulfilled. Yet…
“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Finite hope may or may not appear, but infinite hope, ahhh, that is something different all together. That hope is not just wrapped up in a promise, but a person, and not just any person, but God Himself. God-With-Us.
Often, we look to the promises of God as our hope, when our hope is simply Himself. Incarnated. Emmanuel. With-Us. Here amid our sorrow, our how long! pleas and cries.
There will be trials and disappointments, but God does not leave us without hope.
There is hope because God is still With-Us.
Here’s the thing about hope: it may not always look the way we expect it to, but in the end, it always looks like God. God-With-Us.
Our hope isn’t found in the promise fulfilled. Our hope is that God-With-Us is our hope.
God-With-Us—Christ, Emmanuel—pours upon us the hope of His presence and it leads to the way of peace, and to the way of joy, and the way of love and then to promises fulfilled. Hope is not only clinging to a promise of the future, but more so clinging to the Person who is present, now and always.
This is the message of Advent. Advent is not an extension of Christmas; Advent links our past hope, our present hope and our future hope.
Our God-With-Us is hope, and that hope restores our hearts, our minds, our soul and strength towards peace, towards joy, towards love so we can worship fully in the knowing that our God never leaves us nor forsakes us.
David, as in most of his laments, remembers that hope. He finishes his anguished cries with these words:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
For he has been good to me.”
God-With-Us is Hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”