I think we could all use a little infusion of hope just about now. I don’t believe anyone would say that the last few years have been the best. Ever since the onset of COVID-19, all that was solid, familiar, and safe seems to have been jarred shockingly loose. Social media, once a place to connect with “friends,” is now a hotbed of harsh and hurtful diatribes. Family members won’t speak to each other because of sharp political disagreements. Many of our major cities have degenerated into debauched crime zones. Everything from automobiles to groceries to insurance is considerably more expensive. Just two months ago, we saw the horrifying terror assault on the nation of Israel, and suddenly the specter of our own country being drawn into war seems disturbingly real. The traditional Christmas message of “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” may seem like little more than cheery words printed on a greeting card — quickly scanned and just as quickly dismissed. Many people are discouraged; some are frightened about their future and the future of our country. Some are losing hope.
It has been well said that you can go weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without air, but you cannot go one moment without hope. As we enter this Christmas season, I want to encourage you with what I call the Hope of Christmas — not just cheery words, but a solid, unwavering hope that is located in the person of JesusChrist. The apostle Paul articulated this beautifully in the following passage.
What hope Is not
Let’s make sure we understand what biblical hope is not. It is not wishful thinking; it is not hoping that something might or might not happen in the future, such as “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.” No, biblical hope is the absolute assurance in the promises of God. Every promise of God is “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). We read in the Old Testament that “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:45), and we can have that very same confidence in the promises that God has made to you and me in the New Testament. They will not fail, because God can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18). And so, “We wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, JesusChrist, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own” (Titus 2:13-14).
The world around us seems to be shaken and broken and changing in startling, almost incomprehensible ways, but we can and should appropriate the unshakeable, unbreakable, unchanging promises of God by faith, a faith that does not waver because there is no variation or shadow of turning with God (James 1:17). We can trust Him . . . fully and completely and forever.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Past, present and future hope
Christmas hope has a past, a present, and a future. The promise of the coming Savior was accomplished on that first Christmas morning. Space does not permit me to go into it here, but the birth, death, and resurrection of JesusChrist are some of the best-attested facts in all of history. The life of Christ is not a nice story; it is a matter of solid, proven, historical fact, and just as we can fully trust in the fact that JesusChrist lived, died, and walked out of His tomb alive and well, we can trust that the promises He made will also come to pass.
I am well aware that the Christmas season is not a time of “Joy to the world” for many of you. We have several people in our congregation who will be observing this Christmas while feeling a searing ache in their hearts because a loved one is no longer here with them. Many of you are struggling because there is too much month at the end of the money, or you are bewildered how a job that once seemed so certain is suddenly gone, or how a child who once seemed so solid in his or her faith has plunged headlong into today’s godless culture. “Where is Jesus in that, Tommy?” you may be wondering. Believe me, I’ve heard those questions, and I’ve shared in the tears that come with them.
What is that present hope that anchors our soul amid times of doubt discouragement and even despair? It is the promise that Jesus made to His disciples before He ascended into heaven, and it is a promise that He makes to you and me today: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
JesusChrist is God; He is the same yesterday and today and forever, and He has promised us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, 8). When we are not feeling peace, when all reason for hope seems to have abandoned us, we can confidently cling to the hope that is the anchor for our soul, the hope that JesusChrist loves us so much that He left the glory of heaven and came to be born in the filth of a stable, only to die a terrible, excruciating death on a cross because He loves you that much. Before Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, our Lord loved you (Ephesians 1:4-5), and you have His promise that nothing can ever cause Him to remove His love from you (Romans 8:38-39).
And if that isn’t enough to fill your heart with hope, Christmas also points toward a future hope: the blessed hope of the return of Jesus. On the night He was betrayed, JesusChrist looked His accusers in the eye and said, “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Again, let me remind you that not one of God’s promises has ever failed or will ever fail. So, bask in this promise of hope this Christmas season. The apostle John was given a glimpse of our future, and he recorded it so that you and I might be filled with hope this Christmas season:
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth… I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Jesus is the Hope of Christmas!
Christmas is a time of hope. We know that JesusChrist was born to die . . . for us. And He gives us a present hope that He loves us and will never forsake us, no matter what! And no matter how bleak the present may seem, we can look to the future, where He will raise us to be with Him in a place where sorrow and doubt and despair will be as far from us as the East is from the West. . . forever!
For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.