The Hope of Christmas

Are you struggling, like I am, to be merry this Christmas?

The genocide taking place in Aleppo weighs too much to pretend all is well. The visuals on our screens assault our sense of civility in the world: desperate families trying to escape, a staggering number of dead, blood-covered children looking for their parents, hospitals overwhelmed, doctors leaving, fear that never lets up. We’re witnessing evil incarnate: pride, hatred, murder, greed, indifference—more suffering than can be imagined in a lifetime. Some of these people are our Christian brothers and sisters. The toll on their lives seems insurmountable.

There is no peace on earth—no, it’s hell on earth for some.

It’s hard to turn off the news and head out shopping, with Holly Jolly Christmas playing in the background. We busy ourselves preparing for our celebration of excess, with luxuries we don’t need. The decorating, the partying, the gift-giving—it seems out of place in our hurting world. We could cancel Christmas—that sounds noble, but that wouldn’t help those who suffer.

Sometimes the horror in front of us, drains out the hope inside of us. We forget (I do), that Christmas is a story of hope.

The world’s greatest problem is not war—it’s sin. Sin is the cause of all the suffering in the world. God sent Jesus to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is good news. This is hope.

His incarnation is one step in a series of fulfilled promises. Jesus was born at Christmas. He died on Good Friday, and rose from the dead at Easter. Some promises are still future but guaranteed by God himself. Jesus promises to come again, and take his people to the home he’s preparing for us. We persevere and wait, with the certainty of that hope.

Hopelessness prevails when we make this world our home. Our hope is not in a place or in perfect circumstances. Our hope is in a person—Jesus. He came as a baby, born to a virgin, in a time of political unrest. An angel appeared to shepherds and announced that the Messiah was born for all the people. They would find him in a manger. Oh come let us adore him.

Jesus is the only hope for a war-torn country, for sin-stained souls, for every grieving heart at Christmas.

God does not sit silently somewhere with folded arms, detached from earth’s woes. He’s working out his redemption plan, and inviting us to join him in spreading the gospel of hope. Because we know the truth, Christians should be the most hopeful people in the world, regardless of what we see on the news.

So how should we celebrate this Christmas?

Focus on Jesus—the hope of the world. Don’t skip Christmas—celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Sing enthusiastically songs that proclaim the truth and the hope:
for example, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, (3rd stanza)
“Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in his wings,
Mild he lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.”

Spread the hope of Christmas to others:
God always puts hurting people in our path, even people at our table. Let the events in our hopeless world lead to a discussion about real hope. Reach out to those close to you who are hurting. Give them a reason to hope.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 comments to The Hope of Christmas

  • Natalie

    Another thought– Give. Each year our church challenges its members to give as much to global missions as they spend on buying Christmas gifts. Even if you can’t give that much this year, do something! It’s not enough just to feel sad about the state of the world. Find trusted organizations providing humanitarian aid and the hope of the Gospel. This humanitarian crisis is softening hearts towards Christ. I believe this is a trusted resource if you need somewhere to start.

  • Phyllis

    I am memorizing Luke 2:1-24 for the month of December in the HCSB version- I heard you recite this a few years ago on one of your post ago when I was just starting to memorize meaningful passages to me during certain times in life . This month has been such a blessing as I realized ” In those days… these days my own story is being written by God. “while they were there the time came for her to give birth to her firstborn son. I am sure going to Bethlehemh was very inconvenient for them in those days. It appeared it was Casear Augustus forced them there, but God’s hand guided them there all along. I too want to be at the the place where God wants me to be when the time comes for him to full fill His purpose in me. I desire more than anything this Christmas God’s FAVOR . May we proclaim good news of hope. May we seek His face so God may reveal His heart to us so that we too may have peace even in this troubled world. Thank you Janet for encouraging me to memorize. I am sure Mary memorized every word the Angel told her- May we too have His words in our heart to treasure and ponder to give us hope in these troubled times!

    • Phyllis, you are right, the Christmas story has God’s sovereignty all over it. God is working out his plan. I know that memorizing Luke lets you see new things and brings it to life. I love saying the words out loud. It fills me with peace. Merry Christmas Phyllis.

  • mary edwards

    when i memorized philippians in chapter 2 all i could think of was “this is the christmas story”

    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to death–
    even death on a cross!
    i love this passage
    thanks for all your encouragement to me
    merry christmas

    • Such a fresh reminder for all of us. Thank you Mary. The gift of his incarnation is really hard to even fathom its magnitude. Merry Christmas to you!