"But at the right time, God sent His Son. A woman gave birth to Him under the Law. This all happened so He could buy with His blood and make free all those who were held by the Law. Then we might become the sons of God. Because you are the sons of God, He has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. The Spirit cries, “Father!” So now you are no longer a servant who is owned by someone. You are a son. If you are a son, then you will receive what God has promised through Christ." Galatians 4:4-7
How long should you hope before you give up hope? Timing is a tricky thing when it comes to hope. It is possibly the number reason why people give up hope. I admit sometimes it is hard to keep hoping when you have held onto hope for a long, long time and you haven't seen what you hoped to see. Time is what separates hoping from hope. Hoping is wishing that I get what I want. It's not something I'm sure of but it is something I hope to get. It may involve a good luck charm such as a rabbit's foot or a four leaf clover. I hoped to get many things for Christmas during my childhood years. Some of the things I hoped to get I did and some of the things I hoped for I never received. I didn't hope any harder for the things I received than I did for the things I never received. Just wishing and wishing harder didn't seem to help me much. The hope of the Bible, the hope associated with Christmas has nothing to do with wishing it has to do with waiting. Hope trusts the promises of God and knows it is just a matter of time until God fulfills His promise. Abraham and Sarah hoped for a long time as they waited for God to fulfill the promise of a son for them. Over those long years of waiting they weren't wishing and hoping they had hope God would keep His promise. Even when they passed their normal child-bearing ages they still hoped in God's promise. They weren't hoping, they were waiting in hope! Hope trusts God's timing as well as His truthfulness. That's what Paul reminds the Christians in Galatia about in this portion of Scripture. He is reminding them of God's perfect timing in the Christmas Story. Jesus was sent to earth at the perfect time in human history! It is interesting to note that for Mary and Joseph God's hope came too early! They were planning a wedding and making plans to set up their household and suddenly God makes an announcement to Mary. She will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to Jesus, the Son Of God. I'm sure and Mary had plans for a beautiful wedding and a romantic honey moon before even thinking about having a child. But in God's perfect timing, Mary was given her hope much sooner than she had planned. She obeyed God and in so doing, gave up many of her personal hopes to embrace God's hope. For Zechariah and Elizabeth God's hope came too late for for their fondest dreams to be realized. They were both well beyond child-bearing years. Honestly, they were beyond child-rearing years. But, they did get the joy of holding their long-awaited son they had hoped for all these years! Hope came too early for Joseph and Mary, so it seemed. But Paul said to the Galatians that "at just the right time" God's hope came to them wrapped in a baby. Sooner than they wished their hoping was over and they held the hope of the world in their hands. Hope seemed to come too late to Zechariah and Elizabeth but they received what they had always had hoped for - a son! Interestingly, Paul wrote to the Galatians that God's time was perfect! They received their long hoped for little John, latter known as John the Baptizer. True hope, godly hope waits it doesn't wish. Hope hears the promise of God and waits confidently for it Will you stop hoping and hope in God? Will you give up on wishing and get busy waiting for God to do what he promised? Isn't it about time?