A friend of mine recently returned home from a tour of duty overseas with the Army. There are pictures of him reuniting with his family. Smiles abound, broader than typical. They are embracing one another, sharing kisses.
I find in this little scene a parable of hope. On the one hand, there is the hope that lives in the midst of separation and hardship. It is the waiting hope. It is expectancy, longing, prayer—hoping for something that is yet to come.
On the other hand, there is the hope of delivery. Think gestation and child-birth. Yes, the waiting time is pregnant and somehow strangely filled with joyful expectation, but nothing matches the joy of fulfillment. This represents the hope that comes with a new day, of promises delivered. It is sunrise hope and its power can be experienced only after the watching and waiting of a long, hard, sleepless night.
As great as that hope is, there is still a greater hope. I call it the hope of hope. We know there is this kind of hope because it is the only way to explain why we keep hoping when hopes are fulfilled. It means there is something still greater to come.
As I thought about my friend coming home, I found myself hoping for something even greater than the joyful reunion portrayed in the photographs. I found myself hoping for a day when no reunions will be needed because no separations will occur, a day when no peace treaties will be drafted because no wars will be waged. The Bible calls it shalom. It is the day when all will be well, and all will be well, and all will be well. This is the final hope of our hoping. And this is what we wait for and long for. It is why the season of Advent begins with hope and ends with peace.
Lord, I pray you will speed the day when we will know first-hand this hope of hope.