Advent: Hope

tree2 copy

Nothing to do with wishful thinking


Let’s look at something called Hope.

(Tagalog’s pag-asa, rather than sana.)


This Hope is solid, active, alive, organic, dynamic, growing.

Like a tree.*


It has nothing to do with wishful thinking, wistful longing, or mental gymnastics around undoable dreams.


It is a profound anticipation of good. An alert expectancy.


Two intriguing aspects of this Hope:

It often comes in unexpected ways.

It shines all the brighter in times of darkness.


Celebrities among us


The last couple of years have included some high highs and low lows, both personally and with the work of Young Focus (

In the midst of some of the most stressful months of our lives, Paul and I have also seen some wonderfully inspiring moments at Young Focus, when the Philippines’ currently most famous Beauty Queen and most celebrated Mixed Martial Arts athletes have walked among us, spending time with staff, students and parents, talking, listening, encouraging.


But if we strip away the glory of fame, fortune and success, there’s a bigger meaning here…


Not forgotten


For the families living in this most reviled corner of the city, the message is simple:

You are not forgotten.


Is this not, in its essence, what the human heart most longs to know:

I am not forgotten.


Advent: Stripping away His glory, God comes. Is this not also, in its essence, the core of our Hope: God among us.

We are not forgotten.


 “With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Romans 8:31-39; The Message


Hope’s challenge


And this Hope is not only about bringing US the comfort and certainty of being loved. This Hope is also for THEM. It is to be shared.


Henri Nouwen put the challenge so well:


Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory.”


Hope is to make us brave!


So, be brave

Be free

Be Hope-filled!



First shared with Church Simplified, Manila:



* Romans 15:3-13


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