We are now in the season of advent, a time when Christians are preparing to celebrate Christmas. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the rearview mirror. Christmas decorations are going up everywhere and Christmas songs are filling the air.
But for some, this season feels different, hard even and far from hopeful.
Dan, for example, is unemployed, having lost his job of 20 + years in the spring. Since then, he’s had only a few interviews for jobs he wasn’t excited about, and lately, nothing. His severance is running out, and the bills are piling up. At 62, he wonders if anyone will want him again. He feels like a failure.
Alicia has breast cancer. She’s only 35, with a husband and two young children. It’s been hard and she’s struggling physically with the treatment and is anxious wondering whether she’ll be able to watch her children grow up.
Duane’s wife died unexpectedly a year ago and recently his house burned down, losing everything. Each day he learns something new that insurance won’t cover to replace. He has no family in the community to help and living in a hotel has been hard on the children. He wonders if life will ever get back to normal.
Our current circumstances may feel more like Dan, Alicia, or Duane’s. When we place our hope in a job, our home, our health, or finances, we will often be disappointed because these things are only temporary and will fail us. Yet, there is hope.
HOPE is the confidence that there is something better, that what we are experiencing is only temporary, and we will make it through regardless of the difficulties.
HOPE is anticipation, it is expectations about the future.
HOPE is faith in waiting, something most of us are not very good at.
For Jesus followers, HOPE is trust in God, that’s He’s ever present, holding our hand during whatever we are experiencing.
God knows we live in a difficult world, full of challenges that often leave us feeling like there is no hope. But he knows what that’s like because He lived it – Emmanuel – God with us.
God has promised each of us:
- to be a loving (Isaiah 54:10), caring (1 Peter 5:6-7), forgiving (1 John 1:9), and renewing (Titus 3:5) God – Wow, even when we don’t feel lovable, we are loved and cared for. We are forgiven for our human mistakes and failures. When we are running low on energy, He will strengthen us. Take advantage of His strength.
- to surround us with those who will rejoice, grieve, and regularly pray for us (Hebrews 10:23)– We are never alone, He is always with us. And, on this earth, we have a community of family and friends who care about us. There is nothing better than to have others praying for you. Spend time in community. When life is difficult, don’t pull back and be by yourself, get out and be with your support community.
- to bless others through us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) – In difficult times we often we focus on ourselves and forget how important we are to other people. We lose sight of how many lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve helped, those who need to see and be with us. We are here on this planet not for ourselves, but to help others. Spend some time this holiday season providing hope for someone in need.
What if Jesus was not born? Would we have any reason to hope?
Thankfully He was born, we have HOPE!