Hope in hardship

This Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on this deep and incredible commitment God has made – becoming human. We’ll consider four areas where Christ’s coming creates a new paradigm for the way we live.

Our theme in week four is Future. Not only did Jesus come to earth once, he plans to return to bring full restoration to the world. Looking toward a new heaven and earth gives us hope for a future that is pure and real and physical where we will be with God in his presence. We can then endure through the hardships of this life and live righteously with expectation for his future return.

Hope in hardship

Christians throughout the ages have testified to the difference knowing Christ makes in every area of life – family, friendships, work, health, security, and many others. But there may be times when it doesn’t seem this way. We may have struggles in our family or friendships, we may be without employment or facing problems with our health or finances or other challenges. For some believers, commitment to Christ may mean persecution or even death – a real experience even now for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in some parts of the world.

These passages – and many others like them – remind us that the present order of things is not what God ultimately has in store for His creation. Following Christ in this world may lead us down a path of hardship, either because of our faith or just alongside of it. But they also remind us that the joy we experience
in knowing Christ is just a foretaste of what God has in store – for us as individuals and for His whole created order. As we look forward this Advent season to celebrating His first coming as a baby born in Bethlehem, we also look forward to His second coming to reign forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then, the frustrations and sufferings of the present age will be no more. That’s not “pie in the sky by and by,” but genuine trust in One who Himself endured the incredible suffering of the cross “for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2).

But until that day dawns, this hope can light our path, enabling us to endure both severe challenges and the minor struggles of everyday life. Until then, we are called to live lives of godliness and hope, just as a woman endures the pangs of birth in anticipation of the joy of having a child. Knowing that Jesus is coming again to establish His eternal kingdom can make all the difference in the way we face the challenges of life!

Devotional by Russ Bjork

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