Hope grows during December through the anticipation of the holiday activities, Christmas gifts and family gatherings.
Kids anticipate their favorite toy or new electronic gadget under the tree. Families look forward to getting together for their holiday traditions.
If those hopes aren’t met, disappointment seeps into our hearts. In the temporary wrappings of the season, many struggle with broken hope.
Loss, grief, and fear hide beneath the surface of people’s hearts and minds. The superficial happiness of sparkling ribbons and twinkling lights magnifies depression in some. When we get discouraged, disillusioned, and overwhelmed with stress, hope becomes just an ordinary word in a sentimental song.
Why is Christmas hope different?
True hope does not come from our desires or wishes, but from God, pointing us to hope in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the Light of the World, pierced the darkness of the world with hope of drawing us back to God.
The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14
Several of the traditional Christmas carols tell the story of God’s people waiting for the promised Messiah. These songs remind me to look beyond the present circumstances to recall the birth of our salvation in Jesus.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, written by Charles Wesley in 1744, expresses this desire.
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free. From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art. Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
O Little Town of Bethlehem, written by Phillip Brooks in 1857, describes the coming of Christ.
O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, Above the deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light, the hope and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
We are reminded to look to hope in sovereign Lord.
The year my father passed away was difficult in many ways. Not only was I adjusting to the sudden loss of a parent, but my kids were growing up and moving on to college. My role as daughter had changed as well as my role as a mother. The new stage of my family’s life felt uncomfortable and uncertain.
When Christmas came, I decorated my empty nest with lights and ornaments in an effort to create a space of hope and joy after a discouraging year. An ornament of hope hung near the top of the tree. The word of God pointed to the source of hope.
…but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. Isaiah 40:31a NIV
The hope in Christ became my focal point, restoring my weary heart.
Because of the birth of Jesus, broken hope is restored.
Each year that ornament reminds to look to the Lord for hope, no matter what is happening in life.
Christmas hope was born in the manger long ago, reaches us today, and for all eternity. God is the source of true hope, even in the midst of despair.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13 NIV.
Hope is one of the 12 Words for Christmas, available on Amazon.