Hope Born In A Child
I confessed last week that I love Christmas. The way we celebrate (in church and with our family) is with an Advent wreath. Last week, we lit the first blue candle that represents PROMISE. The promise our Lord made in the very beginning to Adam and Eve. That one day He would send a Savior; and that her offspring will crush Satan’s head. Isaiah 7:14 made that promise clearer when he said, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” God with us. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 16:20 that, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” It is on these promises that we can have hope.
Advent is a season of hope, and it is the heart of Christmas. Because Jesus’ birth is a sign of hope, a reminder that God is near and will never abandon us. Psalm 62:5 tells us, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” As we light the second candle on our wreath, it is fitting that it would represent the flame of HOPE. We often speak about hope, we say things like “I hope you have a nice day.” and “I hope this letter finds you well.” “Hope you have a relaxing vacation.” “I hope this pandemic is over soon.” “I hope I get my Christmas cards out by the 19th.” “I hope everyone has a bright and blessed holiday.”
Hope is a wonderful thing to have, especially when we can trust that what we hope for will come true. But sometimes what we are hoping for is not possible. When my children were young, they loved the song “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” the little girl singing the song had a tremendous amount of hope that Santa would bring it to her in his sleigh. But even my kids knew that there was a limit on what you could hope to receive as a gift. Some things are not attainable.
There are many things we hope for in this life, some more probable to happen than others. However, the biblical concept of hope goes far beyond these earthly hopes. It is not mere wishful thinking, but something we have confidence will happen. The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” The kind of hope that kept the wise men looking for a star and then following where it led. The hope that kept Anna and Simeon waiting in the temple year after year, waiting on the Messiah.
With all the terrible things we see on the news each night, and with all the commercialism that surrounds the idea of Christmas, it’s difficult to keep our focus on the real meaning of the season, and it makes it hard to have hope. But we can’t forget that there were and always will be people that will try to break you from your hope. Herod attempted to stop the wise men, but the magi knew of the writings of the prophet Daniel and would not be prevented from worshiping the new king. I am sure that there were those who told Anna and Simeon to give up and laughed at their belief in the Savior to come. But they put their faith into the words of Isaiah. The Hebrew prophet who predicted 700 years before His birth that Jesus Christ would come to save mankind from sin.
So where should we turn for genuine hope? What about you? Do you have hope that sustains you through your challenges, difficulties, and trials? So many do not. People feel trapped in situations over which they have little control. Some place their hope in winning the lottery or in other belief systems. They look at the beauty of Christmas and see only the gifts and ornaments and lights; they have no true hope for a bright future. It is only through the birth, death and resurrection of the Promise fulfilled in Jesus that you and I can find and keep hope. Keep it as say “All year through, not just on Christmas day” but into eternity spent in heaven, where it is Christmas day every day! If you have never fully embraced this hope before, it’s not too late. Make this your Christmas wish, not merely wishful thinking, but a confident expectation of the child born in a manger. Born to set us free!
Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”