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home : religion : inspirational reflections December 12, 2019

12/1/2019 11:37:00 AM
A Promise Of Hope
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church

This week the first season of the Christian church year began again with the season of Advent leading up to Christmas. The Advent wreath appears, a flat evergreen circle with four candles around the outside and one in the middle. The circle of the wreath reminds Christians of God, His endless mercy which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath symbolizes the hope Christians have in God for renewal and eternal life. Advent worship is a journey through the Christian story, and we light one candle around the outside each week to celebrate hope, peace, love, and joy. The candle in the middle represents the birth of Christ and we light that one Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

This Sunday we began the Advent season by celebrating our hope in God, our confident expectation that God’s promises are true. My favorite promise of God is found in Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In Luke 1:26-38 we see that Mary is troubled by the idea that although she is a virgin, she is pregnant. In those days being pregnant out of wedlock was culturally taboo. Joseph would know it was not his baby. Deuteronomy 22:20 says a woman in this situation should be stoned to death in the door of her father’s house. Mary had good reason to be fearful about the future. In Matthew 1:10-24 Joseph realizes that Mary is pregnant and plans to marry her anyway and divorce her later. At least this would save her life. His dreams of happily ever after were shattered and he dreaded the future.

In both cases, an angel of the Lord assured them that God had called them for a special purpose. The angels said that God was working in the situation for their good, and for the good of all mankind. They both had a choice to believe what the angel said or not. If Mary had not believed the promise, she might have committed suicide. Better to take your own life than be stoned to death. If Joseph had not believed the promise, he might have married Mary and made up a reason to divorce her later. In both cases, the Holy Spirit gave them hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. They chose to believe by faith that God was calling them for a purpose, and he was working for their good.

The hope that Joseph and Mary had enabled them to keep going and not give up. Although our lives are very different today, the human condition has not changed. We can find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless situation leading to a bleak future and we see no good way out. The promise made in Romans 8:28 that God has called us for a purpose, and He can work for our good in every circumstance is ours today, too. We can choose to believe it by faith or not.

Even when the road ahead is dark and we dread the future, we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us the same hope he gave to Joseph and Mary. In all things God’s people can have faith in His promise that we are called for a purpose and He is working for our good.

Rev. Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church and she can be reached at 828-962-8196 or

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