Have you ever hoped something would come in the mail on a certain day, but it didn’t arrive? Have you ever hoped you would receive the phone call, but you never heard from them again? Have you ever hoped the sale would go through, only to have the buyer’s financing turned down? Expecting something to happen that doesn’t is one of life’s biggest disappointments.

Those disappointments are really wishes that never materialize. Using the word hope in those contexts isn’t the way the Bible uses the word. There isn’t a sense of failed hope biblically. My favorite definition of hope is the absolute expectation of coming good. Biblical hope is a sure thing. Biblical hope doesn’t disappoint. The start of the Christian calendar, with Advent, is the perfect reminder of this.

No matter the wait, no matter the suffering, we will not be disappointed, because our hope is predicated upon the work of God. My favorite Christmas song is O, Holy Night. I love the line, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Into a dark world, shrouded in sin, God birthed salvation-light. The whole thing is thrilling when you stop and think about it. It is a thrilling story. Ricky Bobby was on to something when he prayed, “Dear eight-pound, six-ounce newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent.” This is the story of God saving the world.

The prime metaphor in the Bible for hope is pregnancy. Paul applies this in Romans 8 as he contrasts the current sufferings experienced in this life, with the weight of the reality to come. It’s like a baby eventually revealed, eagerly expected, finally liberated from the womb! That is always what the Bible is talking about when referring to hope. And as Paul says, “For in this hope we were saved.” (Romans 8:24)

“The purpose of Advent,” says Phuc Luu, in his series Interrupted by Hope, “is to make us pregnant with hope. For many, the holiday season is not filled with joy, family, and gifts, but anxiety, stress, and despair. Advent seeks to reframe our experiences with new expectations, expectations that will not disappoint. It is the expectancy that new life will start to grow within all of us.” (Interrupted by Hope: Turning Towards Advent, The Work of the People, 2014)

Biblical hope is not an alloy of wishing, waiting, frustration and disappointment. It is the pure, absolute expectation of coming good. Do you dare hope ? Are you thrilled by hope? Are you pregnant with hope?