Even when we hope for certain things, the outcome of what we hope for may not always match up with our expectation. The Christmas, I hoped for a cabbage patch doll, I did receive one, but she was not what I expected. She was a handmade cabbage patch with brown hair made of yarn and she was wearing a little blue dress. She was not the yellow haired plastic doll I wanted. I remember I cried that Christmas because what I had hoped for what not what I received. 

The Israelites were expecting Jesus to come as a king, someone with power and authority. Yet when Jesus came as a baby, he was not the king they expected. I imagine there was some disappointment, maybe some fear that God wasn’t really going to deliver his promise. 

As Jesus came into his ministry, and even as a child, people knew he was special, and they followed him. People came to believe that God’s promise was true, even though it was not what they expected, and it took many many years to see the promise fulfilled. 

What does it look like for us to live and love courageously when things don’t look like what we expect? Although I cried that Christmas morning when I received my doll, eventually I grew to love her. She didn’t look like all my friends dolls, but she became very special to me. 

Close your eyes, think of a time when your expectation didn’t match your hope. What did it feel like? How did you move forward? Even when things don’t match up we still have the strength within us to move forward, to live and love courageously. 

Creator God, may your presence near us be known. Help us to continue to move forward in life even when the outcome is not what we expect. Help us to move forward even when we feel like our hopes have been crushed. Help us to find the strength within to not let the outcome stop us from living to the fullest of life. Help us to live and love courageously. Amen.