During this joyous Christmas season, some struggle to find hope. Earlier this month, a Langley, Washington, resident expressed her loss of hope in a letter to the editor of the South Whidbey Record. People, personal finances, and the government have proved to be unreliable sources of hope.
But what is hope? And where does one find it?
Sometimes we use that word as a synonym for wish. For example, “I hope it won’t rain on Saturday.” But the definition I’m referring to is a sure and confident expectation that God will do what he promised to do. This kind of hope is what keeps people pressing on through life’s storms.
However, instead of placing their hope in God, many people anchor their hope in numerous things such as their friends, family or partner; money in the bank; personal or financial success; the government; their faith tradition or community; the goodness of other people; or only in themselves.
When one of these sources of hope fails, many switch to another form of hope. If all sources of support fail like an anchor in loose sand, a person drifts into despair. This despair steals a person’s purpose for life. Sometimes even the season of Christmas causes depression because it brings to mind broken relationships and the evil that exists in the world. Many seek to numb this emotional pain by abusing sex, drugs, or alcohol or by getting lost in the busyness of work or other activities.
To those drifting in despair, I offer the steadfast hope of Christmas.
In the beginning, God created everything good and designed people to have a relationship with him. But mankind (all of us) rejected God and his plan for us, and we chose to live our lives our own way. This rebellion against God is what the Bible calls sin, and sin is the source of all pain, misery, and meaninglessness in the world. Sin also makes a relationship with a holy God impossible.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 3:23)
Yet, God still loves us and wants to restore our relationship with him. To reconcile mankind to himself, God sent his only son, Jesus, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas, to live in this dark world to provide all with an unfailing hope. Jesus lived a perfect life, died a brutal death to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose from the dead to demonstrate his power over sin and death.
Now, all who choose to turn away from their sinful ways, trust Jesus to forgive their sins, and to put Jesus in charge of their lives can have a relationship with God, which is eternal life. We were all created to have a relationship with God and cannot live in peace until this relationship is made right.
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”(Romans 10:9)
Life as a follower of Jesus doesn’t remove the troubles and suffering in life, but God provides us the hope and strength to live through them. When hard times come, we can trust God’s promises that he will carry us through. And that knowledge provides the hope we all need to live.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…” (Hebrews 6:19 NAS).
This Christmas, accept the greatest gift of all, a life of peace, hope, and joy with God.