Hope is a Who

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This article originally appeared on the blog for the Be Love Revolution, which you can view here.

Many Decembers ago, in a small dorm room at the University of Michigan, a miracle happened. The God of the Universe broke into my selfish and sinful heart. That night after months of searching, my unnamed longing was revealed to me in the person of Jesus the Messiah, and through my feeble YES, faith—as new as the baby Jesus—was born in my heart.

Now as a disciple of Jesus I’m trying to help others, especially young women, to know, love, and follow Him too. My idea of a great week is Pine Hills Girls Camp, being on mission in the garbage dump in Mexico City, an early Tuesday morning bible study at the local coffee shop, and being with my grandchildren.

Yet despite all the good things and God things in my life, I am prone to discouragement, and at times I struggle with HOPE. After many years of following Jesus, I have faced great joy and great pain, triumphs and disappointments, answered prayers and ones that seem to fall on deaf ears. But during the season of Advent there is a truth that has helped me cling to and grow in hope. Hope is a Who. I know this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book title, but hear me out…

When I was pregnant with each of my children I was filled with such expectant hope because I was preparing to giving birth to a real person, not a theory or a concept, but a real, living person with a name (Sarah, Michael, Joshua, Rachel), a face, an identity, a personality, and a purpose. I couldn’t wait to welcome that little person into our life.

Advent helps me remember that God who really exists—not as an idea, a philosophy, or theory—was born into our world as a human person, with a name (Jesus), an identity, a personality, and a purpose. Hope is a Who. My hope is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and the certainty of what God has promised in Him. My hope isn’t based on my feelings or circumstances which change constantly, or in material things which break and wear out. My hope in others can bring disappointment, and hope in myself incites self-reliance and often ends in failure.

What fills me with hope is Jesus’ unbreakable promise: “I am with you always.” The name Emmanuel, God-with-us, reminds me that I am never alone, that he came to earth to set up his dwelling within me; that he will never leave me or forsake me. True hope isn’t anchored in my word, on wishful thinking or what I want, but on what the sovereign, loving God knows I need, revealed to me in the Word made flesh, and the rock-solid truth of the Scriptures.

Hope has a name and His Name is JESUS. When the light of hope fades within you, like it does in me sometimes, I challenge you to speak, proclaim, and praise the name of Jesus with the confidence of a trusted friend. Let your hope grow—not in what is to come or in what may be, but in Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who has come to make His home in us. This Christmas, may Jesus, the Hope of the world, find a welcome place in our hearts.

Debbie Herbeck

Debra Herbeck speaks at conferences and retreats about spiritual growth, discipleship, and her own journey from Judaism to the Catholic Church. For the past thirty years, she has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. Debbie is the co-founder and leader of Be Love Revolution, a movement dedicated to helping young women encounter and be God’s love in the world. Debbie is the director of Pine Hills Girls Camp. She also helps lead i.d.9:16, an outreach of Renewal Ministries that equips young adult Catholics to live as intentional disciples. She has written Safely Through the Storm: 120 Reflections on Hope, Firmly on the Rock: 120 Reflections on Faith, and Love Never Fails: 120 Reflections on Love. She and her husband Peter co-authored When the Spirit Speaks: Touched by God’s Word. Debbie and Peter have four children and four grandchildren. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Debbie can be contacted at dherbeck@renewalministries.net.