The promise of hope is something we have all been longing for this year. Hope that next month will be different. Hope that this virus will go away. Hope that our efforts with social distancing and masks will be worth the effort. Hope that a vaccine will help things get back to normal sooner rather than later.
The promise of hope, as much as it keeps us going, also has a downside.
The thing about a promise is that it also means, “not yet.” If there is a promise that something is coming, something will be made right, it usually means eventually….just not right now.
A promise is sometimes hard to live with. There is a tension between longing for something that hasn’t happened yet and still dealing with what’s happening currently.
The promise of hope that we celebrate at Christmas, however, is a little bit different.
As Jesus came to earth to rescue us from our own mess, He also left us with a promise. He will be back. But in this case, He left us with the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us until He gets back. Because of that, the promise goes from being “not yet” to the “already, not yet.”
What does this mean? Well, exactly what it says. We already have the presence of the Holy Spirit, even though we are still in this fallen world. It is not yet redeemed. So while we wait, we can already stand in the confidence of knowing we don’t have to do it alone.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21 NIV
Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to help us. This means that we don’t have to wait in the same way the world does. As we wait, be can have the confidence to know that He is with us, helping us in the waiting.
The promise of Christmas is the presence of Christ.
As we look ahead, in the waiting and the hoping, let’s remember that we already have access to the one that holds our hope in His hands.