The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah while he was still confined in the court of the guard: In this place that is waste, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made. – Jeremiah 33:1-14 excerpts (NRSV)
What is the difference between prediction and procrastination, between the coming that is delayed and the delay of what is coming?
Where is the anchor to hold a person steady between delicious excitement over the possibility of incredible goodness, and resigned recognition that such goodness is still a long way away?
What is the role of faith when we believe renewal is certain but we are too weary, too discouraged, too disenchanted to count the signs and measure the seasons until renewal is born?
What is the difference between Advent prophecy and justice delayed, between apocalyptic hope and dreams deferred?
I’m asking for a friend, of course.
Hope is not a pie-in-the-sky, wish-upon-a-star spiritual practice. Hope is hard. Painful at times, too. To know so clearly the goodness that is desired and needed; to catch the faintest hint of that holy sweetness you most long for; to have a prophetic inclining of the wild goodness God most longs for; and yet to be bound in time and flesh by “not yet” is heart-wrenching.
To receive hope, to know and proclaim hope, to trust hope in the midst of life’s many confinements is radical and raw. Jeremiah, in his place of confinement, pulled off the feat. By contrast, my trust in hope has been a bit sore and wary, protective and cautious. The “not yet” has been overwhelming the “now” (and vice versa).
In full confession, today my best effort at Advent is to kick the can of hope down the street to tomorrow, when I might have the courage to pick it up.
Prayer: These are days for daring hope, O God, but I am hesitant to trust in possibility—even holy possibility. Forgive and encourage me, I pray.
written for the Daily Devotional