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Waiting is never easy. But often, waiting is what God calls us to do. Hope Walks invites you to join us for an advent devotional focusing on the simple act of waiting. We do this through the story of Simeon, a little-known yet pivotal character in the birth narrative of Jesus.

Our African Hope Walks staff have written a devotional for each Sunday in advent focusing on Simeon and the lessons we can learn from his waiting for the Consolation of Israel, the promised Messiah. Before Simeon’s time, the last prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah occurred more than 400 years prior through the prophet Malachi.

The Holy Spirit promised Simeon he would not die before he laid his eyes on the Lord’s Christ. Faithful in believing this promise, Simeon waited.

As we enter into this devotional, may we also prepare our hearts to wait for the second coming of Christ as faithfully as Simeon waited for the first coming more than 2000 years ago.

In Hope,

Scott Reichenbach
President and Co-Founder
Hope Walks

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The story of Simeon: Luke 2: 25-32

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[a] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

English Standard Version

Sunday, November 27 - First week of advent

Waiting is not easy, especially when you do not know the timing of what you are expecting. Simeon waited in the temple for God’s promise to be fulfilled. Waiting is the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or event, in readiness or expectation. Waiting can also be defined as a state or attitude of watchfulness and expectation. Hope is desire accompanied by the expectation of obtaining or fulfillment. It can also be something desired or someone or something on which hopes are centered. Simeon waited in anticipation for the promised Messiah, and his hope was realized.

Many of us have things we desire with anticipation and have been waiting for a long time. Like Simeon, we should not lose heart but trust God to fulfill his Word in our lives. Moreover, we have the promise that Jesus will return, and although it seems like a long time to wait, we must remain where we are, that is, in the faith as we wait for the blessed hope of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the age. This is the hope to which we have been called – the hope of salvation, eternal life, and dwelling in God’s presence forever. We must wait in hope, but we must also wait in Christ. To effectively wait, we must have hope. Hope is that energy that keeps us waiting in expectation. It is difficult to wait when hope fades away, and we will usually walk away.

As we go through the Advent season, let us be encouraged to wait in hope for all of God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives. God fulfilled the most important promise – the promise of a Savior. As testified by Simeon, he will fulfill all his promises. God’s promises to us are yes, and Amen, in Christ.

Loice Chipere
Program Manager, Zambia

Sunday, December 4 - Second week of advent

Simeon, the old man, was described as just and devout, “dikaios” in Greek and “yasher” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament, this term not only meant to obey the commandments of God but indicated a person who was right with God both in heart and deed. This attitude of heart enabled Simeon to wait for the coming of the Messiah, Emmanuel, of whom the prophets of the Old Testament spoke. 

His devotion and faith in God were so simple and strong that the Holy Spirit had guaranteed him that he would see the LORD’s Christ before he died. This serene and peaceful expectation contrasted with Israel’s social and political environment at that time caused by the Roman occupation with its share of oppression and pain. 

For example, King Herod had thousands of babies murdered, hoping to prevent the coming of the Messiah. How many people still remembered the prophecies about the Messiah by this time? Very little, no doubt. 

Simeon did not let the ambient iniquity dampen his love for God and trust in him; quite the contrary. In the Advent season, Simeon’s attitude of trusting in God’s promise, showing God’s love through his daily actions, and living by His word, despite this harmful environment is inspiring. 

So, as we come to the end of this year marked by many worries and conflicts, we will see the salvation and the light of the Messiah enlighten our circumstances and bring us a unique and comforting peace.

Dr Oubda .B.A.K. Faïçal
Program Manager, Burkina Faso

Sunday, December 11 - Third week of advent

We can translate this expression “Waiting in joy” as being in a state of expectation or anticipation for someone to arrive or something to happen in great happiness!

Illustration: Let me share an example from my country, Niger, which will help explain the point of my devotional. Let’s say attacks from the terrorist group Bokoharam have threatened a tribal king. This village also was ravaged by a great famine. Now say a delegation from the government came to visit this tribal king to tell him the president of the country was coming for a visit. Immediately, the king ordered his courtiers to get to work mobilizing the population to warmly welcome the president, who would honor them with a visit. The village families were to work to make the streets clean. Elders of the village worked on an agenda for the visit. They planned to share all the town’s misfortunes and ask for the president’s assistance. The day would be a great day of joy because “our president is going to visit us!” Decorations were everywhere, and the whole city was alive with joy. They were impatiently waiting in joy for the visit. They believed this would be a great day of salvation for them because surely when the president arrives, he would see their suffering and send a great army to protect them and drive out Bokoharam. 

There is a Savior for your situation! My illustration of the king reminds me of the experience of a pious man of Israel who awaited the arrival of a Child of Hope with great joy. He was going to come to liberate and save the people of the world living in a situation of great oppression and merciless wars. 

The Bible calls this old man Simeon. The Holy Spirit told him he would not die before seeing the birth of the one who would be the Comforter, the Liberator, and Savior of God’s chosen people, that is to say, Israel. The one whom the Angel sent to Nazareth said to the Shepherds: “…I announce to you Good News, which will be a subject of great joy for all, it is that today in the city of David was born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord….” 

This Good News was not just for the shepherds or Simeon, but for you and me. Perhaps you’re living through a hopeless situation, illness has made you a prisoner for years, or you live without hope for the coming day. This Good News is for you! A Savior is born! A Liberator is here for you today! 

Jesus born in our life makes our expectations glorious!

The Bible tells us Simeon waited with joy for this moment of the fulfillment of the promise of Liberation for the People of God, Israel. Our text said the man came to the Temple one day, pushed by the Holy Spirit, and that day the parents of Jesus brought him to the Temple for his dedication. The eyes of Simeon saw the Child of promise! Hallelujah! And what was after this? The Bible says Simeon received him in his arms; He blessed God and said: “Now let your Servant join his ancestors, for my eyes have seen your salvation!”

Today this same experience can be for anyone who accepts Christ as His Lord and Savior, like Simeon! It is written: “…But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Hallelujah!

Pastor Harouna Souley
Counseling Coordinator, Niger

Sunday, December 18 - Fourth week of advent

Waiting is not as simple as one can imagine, especially when waiting for an event that can change their lives and the whole history of humanity. A long time ago, God promised that a child would be born of a virgin. This child was also called the light and the salvation of the world. Simeon was waiting for this child, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to be born.

These days, we are no longer waiting for Him as a child to be born. Instead, we are celebrating Him as the fulfillment of the promise, the light shining in the darkness, and the salvation of the world. As Simeon praised God when he saw the baby, we should praise Him for this special gift to the world. Let’s thank God, the Father, for allowing his child to be born for us. Let’s praise God for the millions of people who experienced salvation just because a child was born.

While celebrating this child whose birth was once waited for, let’s prepare our hearts to meet Him as Savior. Only through faith in Him can we access all the blessings He brought to us. We are the reason why the child was born. He came to the world for us and is willing to come to our aid no matter our situation.

God bless you!

Bishaza Aristide
Counseling Coordinator, Burundi

Saturday, December 24 - Christmas Eve

Titus 2:13  …Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

We wait because, like seeds planted in the ground, we require time to blossom into beautiful plants. God’s best things are done in us while we wait. He develops us and causes us to establish roots in Him firmly so we may flourish and produce fruits that will exalt Him and be cherished by others.

The grace of God enables us to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the revealing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” The “blessed hope” is the triumphant return of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The “blessed” part of our hope is that the believer in Christ will have an amazing, ecstatic experience when Jesus returns. When we see Christ, we shall be incredibly blessed. The difficulties of this life will be over, and we will realize that our current sufferings are nothing compared to the glory yet to be displayed in us. 

When you say “I hope,” you are not expressing uncertainty; instead, you are expressing your glad assurance that something will happen. We are not ashamed of hope because God has given us the Holy Spirit, which has allowed God’s love to be poured into our hearts.

The key to achieving it is the word “looking” found in Titus 2:13. Having the mindset that Jesus could return at any moment means we spend each day in constant expectation and anticipation. But the big question is how we are waiting for this “blessed hope.” The believer looking forward to Christ’s wonderful return will put forth the effort to wait, in the strength of the inhabiting Holy Spirit, in love. By leading a life of purity, as John wrote in 1 John 3:3, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as [Jesus] is pure.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please give us the power to wait for our “Blessed Hope” in love so we will not be ashamed of how we waited for his second glorious advent.

On this Christmas Eve, we wish you all a joyous holiday!

Endashawu Abera
Program Manager, Ethiopia

Saturday, December 31 - New Year's Eve

People usher in the new year in different ways. Across many cultures, the new year is celebrated by sharing time or a meal with beloved family and friends. This transition period from one year to the next is marked with excitement, anticipation, and hope as we look forward to a new season and better times.

Many people come up with their new year’s resolutions during this period. We make plans we want to undertake in the new year that will change or improve our lives in one way or another. For example, some of my resolutions have been to eat healthier foods, spend more time with loved ones and help more people in need. Do you have some resolutions for the coming year? 

Sometimes we do not fully control the plans we set out to achieve. Moreover, we constantly go through opposing realities of life; for example, we sometimes experience summer and other times winter. These seasons can represent the different periods we go through in our lives as time and seasons keep changing. These changes can be scary, especially when we do not know what the future holds. But change gives us growth opportunities as we trust that God has a good plan and purpose for us. According to Romans 8:28, “… God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Therefore, as we wait for the new year, let us remember to commit everything to God because he is the author of all seasons and times. His faithfulness has brought us this far. Thus, let us trust in him for the next steps. Knowing that God has appointed the times and seasons in our lives should give us great confidence and hope as we wait for the new year because God is in control! According to Matthew 5:45: He allows seasons to change and new beginnings to ascend.

Ann Nyakio
Program Manager, Kenya