Advent 2023 · Hope

Holding Fast to Hope

By Meredith Long

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

The opening verses of Hebrews 10 make plain the futility of blood sacrifice in taking away sin, underscoring its repetitive nature. As we live in the light of Christ’s supreme, “once for all” sacrifice, we are exhorted to a different kind of repetition: the steadfast perseverance of the profession of our faith.

During the past year, the closing moments of our worship service have become a very dear, intentional expression of this “holding fast” for me. Between a busy preschooler and another little one that just celebrated her first birthday, a good portion of many services is spent catching crumbs, as it were, from the hallway or mother’s room. This has the effect of giving greater ponderance to the elements for which I’m most frequently present. Therefore, I’d like to invite you to join me in considering the following aspects of the benediction.

The exhortation to “receive now God’s blessing and benediction.” This simple statement emphasizes the source of what follows. In his exposition on Hebrews, John Owen reminds us that “the efficacy of the promises unto this end depends upon the faithfulness of God who gives them.” This is the “great encouragement,” Owen continues, in the ongoing profession of our faith. The essence of our hope lies in His faithfulness.

The extending of hands. There’s a wealth of contemplation in this action. While empty hands are a humbling reminder of our own penury, they are also a symbol of the expectancy we have in them being filled. Even the physical act of holding them out is a literal expression of faith; to do so without belief would be foolish, would it not? Week after week, benediction after benediction is an opportunity to wordlessly confess the hope that we have.

The great and precious promises. A personal favorite is Romans 15:13 in all its richness: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” These aren’t just pleasant sentiments or abstract concepts. Joy, peace, hope, and more – these are the very real gifts that are ours in Christ! We may lay claim to them with confidence.

As I think on my lack, my Savior’s faithful provision, and the gracious opportunity to boldly turn to Him time and again, the following lyrics come to mind as an appropriate final declaration:

“Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come; Jesus I come,
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.”
 -William True Sleeper

About the Author

Meredith Long is a Tennessee girl who married a boy from Utah, Derrek, in January 2019.  Many adventures have ensued, from sea to shining sea, most recently coming full-circle in a relocation back to the Chattanooga area.  Meredith delights in spending most days dabbling in the kitchen, scribbling the occasional blog post, and nurturing two precious little daughters.  A good book, a good cup of coffee or tea, and a good Alabama football game are other things she finds to be very satisfying.