May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in
hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:13, NRSV
Hope is a strange thing. It comes and goes mysteriously. Some days I have a hard time holding on to it. It drifts away easily if the morning news makes me anxious or the sky turns gray. When this happens, I lean into my family and friends and pray. It also helps to go to my “happy place” where the world is bright and at peace, and all my loved ones are healthy and happy.
Advent reminds us that we are a people of hope, waiting for the Child of Hope. We remember God’s promise that a child will be born, a son will be given, and his name will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6–7). Hope is more than wishful thinking. It means having a strong and confident belief that a situation will change; something good will happen. We will see a promise fulfilled and God’s abiding presence in the world.
On the first week of Advent, we light the candle of Hope. It’s also called the Prophecy candle to represent Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other hope-filled prophets who foresaw the coming of a Savior and better days ahead for God’s people. The light from this first candle offers me more than a glimmer of hope. Its flame renews my soul and quells my fears. Yes, Advent is about preparing and waiting; but for me, it is also about remembering God’s long history of faithfulness and deep love for us. God gives us the precious gift of hope. And, with hope comes comfort and peace even when the morning news is scary and the sky is gray.
In our winter donor newsletter (see below), may you find hope in our reports on the recent Resilience Conference, the Emmaus Ministries Walk and Challenge, and the Academy for Spiritual Formation Day Apart Retreats. We celebrate the life and legacy of three of our international partners, and honor our staff working creatively and diligently to lead our publishing and spiritual program initiatives.
My prayer for you—our donors, readers, and other Upper Room friends—who give us such hope and encouragement, is this one from the current issue of The Upper Room daily devotional guide and written by my colleague Evan Young:
All-Present One, may we find a sense of hope and anticipation in the midst of our current realities. May we not lose faith. In this season of Advent encourage and strengthen our faith, and give us eyes to see you. Amen!
Sherry Elliott is the Executive Director of Administration, Interpretation, and Development at The Upper Room.
This article also appears in the Winter 2021 Fellowship Focus newsletter for friends and donors of The Upper Room. Click the image below to view the complete newsletter.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.