I used to get really excited about Christmas. Not because of the food, friends, family, or celebrations. Truth be told, my materialistic mindset made presents the most marvellous thing about Christmas. I remember getting the very first Nintendo console. The 8-bit grey and black dream machine. My sister and I stayed up until 2am getting past Bowser on level 1-4 of Super Mario Bros. My parents woke up and gave us a stern telling off, but reading the words, “your princess is another castle” left me with a sense of excitement and anticipation of waking up the next morning and continuing the journey to rescue the princess.
Since that Christmas, however, the lure of presents has begun to wear off. It’s feels as if the sense of anticipation and wonder has disappeared. When you’re 5 or 6, each new gift feels like a new miracle with no end. The joy feels so endless and overwhelming that you can’t fathom ever becoming tired of it. But as we’ve aged, there’s a realisation that the gift underneath the tree will not be some miracle. It will not complete you. It will not satisfy your inner hunger. At most, it will be a financial representation of how much someone cares about you. And that in itself feels superficial and shallow. Experience has taught us that things aren’t always as good as advertised.
But I think we have begun to take that same attitude of disappointed anticipation into our relationship with God. We find ourselves asking God for things, only to find and feel that they are not quite as expected. We plead and wrestle with the God of universe for things – not necessarily material things – but things like peace, rest, love, healing, understanding. Miracles not for selfish reasons, but for what we believe is for the glory of God. And yet so often, when unwrapping those prayers the next morning, we discover that we feel no more refreshed, no more healed, no more restored. And so we place God, creator of the universe, onto a shelf of our room, where we look at him with disappointed anticipation.
But perhaps that is where we are going wrong. We imagine that God is someone or something that we summon. That as his children, we are given rights – nay, we demand – that he blesses us. We tell him to fulfil our dreams. Make right our situations. Change our emotions. But we forget, that God is not some Christmas day gift which we control. No, he is God of the universe. The alpha and omega. He who was before the beginning of time, and he who will be at the end of time. We have no right to even know his name!! And yet we do. We call him “Daddy.” We speak to him as a friend. He, who is infinite, has made himself accessible to us. And we have taken advantage of it. We who were poor, naked, and hungry, now act like spoilt millionaires.
So then, how do we pray? Because the problems that we have are still very real. The emotions that we have still hold us back. The challenges of this life continue to weigh on us. Well then, we pray, as Jesus prays. For Jesus knows full well of the temptations and challenges of this world. And yet, never for a moment, does he lose sight of the fact that he is not of this world. And he knows, for a fact, that his glory will be returned. The hope of glory that is immeasurable. Infinite perfection. Endless beauty. Triumphant peace. That is the hope of a risen, glorified saviour. And that same hope is ours. His glory will be our glory. His life will be our life. This is a hope that does not disappoint. This is a promise that will never be broken. So we pray not in fear or failure. We pray knowing full well of hope in glory. And the things that wage war against us will not win. That the pressures of this life are not eternal. That the feelings of heartache and disappointment will pass. For Christ, who endured all things, even death on the cross, has returned to his glory. And we, because of him, are not of this world. We are Disciples of Christ. And nothing will separate us from his love.
And so face each day, not fightings with Bowsers, only to discover our princess is in another castle; rather, we face each day knowing that we are the ones who have already been saved, and our hope in life comes from the undefeated Hero.
So we remember Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
These were some thoughts from our current series The Remarkable Life of Jesus and our Strong and Courageous Life in Him. The message about Jesus’ Prayer from John 17 is available here, and all our previous messages are available on the Sunday messages page.
You can also download a Bible study on the same passage.