In this Advent season, I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “anticipation.” Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” We use it synonymously with ideas like longing, expectation, and anticipation. It is the coming of something great. For Christians, it is the season of the “coming” of Christ. As we wait expectantly for the holiday to remember Christ’s first coming, we also long for His second coming.
The themes of advent are hope, peace, JOY, and love. In the church we toss these words at people like fuzzy blankets, all happy and glittery. In reality they have depth and strength to them that are highly underrated. (Kind of like how the church treats women. Okkk, moving on.)
Hope is funny. It’s a verb and a noun. We hope, actively, which is so similar to anticipation. We wait anxiously and expectantly for many things in our lives. What if we weren’t impatient in our waiting, but replaced it with hope?
For example, y’all know I am single. I’m honestly not too torn up about it at this current juncture in my life, but there have been seasons where I was. So what if instead of being impatient and miserable about what I don’t have, I replaced it with hope? What if I replaced impatience with expectation? What if I replaced pining and complaining with eager anticipation for what the Lord will do? Doesn’t that sound so much more fun?
Here’s a more realistic example in my life right now. I get to go home and be with my family for Christmas in 19 days. But who is counting? I AM COUNTING. I literally cannot wait – but I have to. So what if instead of just surviving and watching the days pass by, I practiced hope each day? What if I sat with expectation and anticipation for the beauty that will be family time? This whole concept actually came to me because of my Mom talking about Christmas. She said, “But we don’t want any of it to go by too fast! Because then it’s over, and part of the fun is the anticipation!” (She’s so wise. Ah.)
We can find hope right here and now; we can make it a practice in our everyday lives. And we can hope for a better future, both in our lives here on earth and when Jesus comes back. Romans 5:5 says, “Hope never puts us to shame.” This verse doesn’t mean that everything we hope for will come true (if that were the case I’d be married to Ryan Gosling), but that we are always called to hope. It is never a bad idea.
One of my best friends and I have created a new prayer from a story in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan says to his armor-bearer, “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf” (vs. 6). We have started praying “perhaps” prayers, which is essentially the same as hope. Perhaps the Lord will teach you something new through this. Perhaps God has a better plan. She literally texted me this beautiful thing: “Perhaps He will show you the perfect thing to let go of this week and what to hold onto…”
Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf…
We are loving these prayers because it is a bold expectation of what God will do. It is a beautiful hope for amazing things to come. It is anticipation for God to be who He is, in His unpredictably lovely way.
In this Advent season, and the advent waiting that our entire lives embody, choose the audacity of hope. I love the line in “O Holy Night” that says, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” May we experience that thrill, and rejoice in the ways God will perhaps work in our lives.