The Thrill of Hope: My Favorite Part of Being a Dad

I stood behind my sons as they waited to see Santa Claus. I could feel their excitement. Their anticipation caused them to sway back and forth, jittering, waiting to sit in his lap. A few years ago, they were terrified of Santa. Sheer panic would break out whenever they saw him. But in time, their fear has been replaced by hope.

I have decided that is my favorite part of being a dad. Every day, my sons give me the opportunity to experience what it is to be childlike—to live with hope. Being a dad has taught me that hope holds the key to unlock fear.

There is hopeful expectation in the eyes of a four-year old that I cannot describe. It is a belief that joy will be made fully complete, that dreams really do come true. My sons constantly teach me to see the world with innocent, hope-filled eyes instead of the jaded, grown-up ones I too often use.

Grown-up eyes are fearful, always seeing the world through a lens of worry.

Children’s eyes glisten with hope.

And that hope is never more evident than it is at Christmas.

The Hope of Christmas

Hopeful expectation is the message of Christmas.

That is where Christmas began.

On a dusty trail between Nazareth and Bethlehem just over 2,000 years ago, a hopeful, expectant mother, Mary, and her faithful husband, Joseph, took an eighty mile trek back to Joseph’s hometown in order to fulfill an obligation to the governing authority.

Their lives had taken a drastic turn in recent months, one that was hardly explainable to those around them. These young, soon-to-be-married individuals were shocked to learn that Mary was pregnant although they had not conceived the child together.

When they learned of Mary’s condition, they sought refuge with Mary’s relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah, who were also expecting. The strange events around their pregnancies led to two possible conclusions: insanity or divine intervention.

Isn’t that how we still feel today?

Either we’re going crazy or God is doing something miraculous.

Too often, when we listen to others, when we see the world with grown-up eyes, we lose hope for the miracle and begin to believe that we’re going crazy, or that God doesn’t care.

But that’s not the story of Christmas.

In her final months of pregnancy, as they made the trip to Bethlehem, Mary couldn’t conceal her condition any longer. I’m sure she doubted what the angel had promised. Surely confusion was a close companion. And I’m positive that Joseph felt the urge to lash out against Mary in disbelief as well.

But that’s not the story of Christmas.

Mary and Joseph held on to the belief that this child was to be unlike any other child. He was to be called Immanuel—God with us. The Lord Himself had told them so.

And so, as they made their way to Bethlehem, they held on to hope to God would deliver on His promise.

This Christmas, be reminded that hope has a way of conquering fear.

I’m not sure where you are this Christmas. Maybe you’re tired and weary from a year that didn’t work out quite as you had planned. Maybe darkness seemed more commonplace than light.

I want to tell you today that the thrill of hope is a powerful thing.

As the beautiful words from O Holy Night resound:

“The weary world rejoices.”

More than anything, being a father has taught me that doubt leads to fear and hope leads to rejoicing.

And I’m grateful to my sons for the reminder to be childlike—to be filled with hope.

Rejoicing awaits.


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3 Responses to The Thrill of Hope: My Favorite Part of Being a Dad

  1. Al Sheneman December 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Well said. It is awfully easy to get caught up in the “news” of the day, ie; ISIS, IMMIGRATION, PROTESTS, DIVISION, ETC.. I chose to stay focused on the GOOD NEWS! HE LIVES!!

  2. David Mike December 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    I choose hope.


  1. A Prayer for a Pastor at Christmas | Matt Ham - December 13, 2014

    […] This Christmas season, I began thinking about the millions of people who utter George’s prayer. The millions of people who are desperate and lost. It could be their distrust of religion, or their distrust of people in general. Maybe it’s a diagnosis or the loss of someone they love. Regardless, they feel much like George Bailey. Even though prayer isn’t their thing, something inside of them cries out–a tiny flame of hope. […]