"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. On him we have set our hope..."
1 Peter 1:3
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through thine resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."
Those of us who have said goodbye to our babies or someone else we love know that when we did, we entered a season of suffering far beyond our ability to endure. We also despaired of life and felt the sentence of death in our hearts. For a time, at least, we may have felt hopeless. We may still feel that way, unable to see the good our future holds.
In lighting the first candle of Advent, however, we declare by faith (because it is so hard to see) that our hope is not in our children or other loved ones or any other circumstances. Our hope is in God - not in what He can or might do for us, but in God himself. Because he is good. Because he is love. And because the baby Jesus grew up to die for our sins and to be resurrected from the dead - something our circumstances can never change.
God, fill our hearts with hope this Advent season - hope in our painful memories, hope in our present longings, and hope in the uncertainties of tomorrow. Help us put our hope in you, no matter what. Amen.