We need hope this year. You can tell by how early people began decorating. Houses have been lit since mid-November. Santas and Frosties were inflated – some the day after Halloween. We need hope- real hope – the hope of Jesus.
The problem is, hope doesn’t come from lights or decorations. You can’t find hope in a well-wrapped box. Not even Santa or Frosty can bring the kind of hope we desperately need this year. It is the hope of Jesus that brings the joy we are desperately seeking.
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“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,” (2 Thessalonians 2:16 NASB)
Why Do We Need The Hope of Jesus for Christmas?
Why is hope so important? Life, in general, can be challenging. Real hope is tough to come by if we focus on all the struggles.
- Relationship struggles
- Divorce. Remarriage. Step-kids. Step-siblings.
- Broken families add complications to the season.
- Who can stand to be in the same room together?
- Trying to include everyone possible.
- It’s a mess!
- Divorce. Remarriage. Step-kids. Step-siblings.
- The death of loved ones brings the shadow and grief, sorrow, and depression into play.
- The holiday season spotlights their absence and causes our hearts to ache.
- Financial instability affects 78% of the world’s population.
- Life is not done paycheck to paycheck
- Credit card debt brings added stress.
- Financial struggles suck the joy out of celebrations.
- Financial instability affects 78% of the world’s population.
The challenges of life bring a desire for hope. The hope of Jesus is the only hope that never disappoints.
What is the Hope of Jesus?
On top of the everyday challenges of life, sin leads to hurt which drives us to seek out hope.
Sin brings an element of difficulty in every season. Often it is when others are caught in this cycle of sin that it hurts us the most. We have no control over their choices but we want the relationship back to a healthy place.
There are big, blatant sin issues that cause hurt that destroy families and friendships and ruin the holiday season for many.
Then there are smaller sin issues that still rob us of the joy of the season.
We could probably go on to list many other sin issues that destroy the joy we long to feel at Christmas. The point is, sin hurts. It hurts the one stuck in the cycle of sin and it hurts everyone who loves that one.
The only hope that can overcome our sin struggle is the hope of Jesus. He overcame sin and the grave and that brings a hope we can hold onto.
Why is Jesus Our Only Hope?
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NASB)
In the past few years, we’ve even added a new layer of darkness to our already hard lives.
- Job loss
- The unexpected death of loved ones
- Dreams crushed
Obviously, there have been hard years before, years of war, other diseases that have crippled the world, the great depression, and the like.
Maybe I am more of a Millennial than I like to admit, but I’ve never lived through those kinds of things. This has been the hardest year I’ve lived through and it shows no signs of ending.
2020 took our hard life to a level of difficulty I hadn’t expected in many ways but as Christmas draws near it is harder still. As Christmas draws near, I am reminded that Jesus is the only hope. He is the only one consistent, the only one who will never fail, the only one who will never abandon us.
- Jesus the hope of the World!
- Jesus the hope of glory!
Examples of The Hope We Seek
We spend a lifetime asking questions about hope:
- What is the real meaning of hope?
- And what is a better word than hope?
- What are some examples of hope?
Where does hope come from? I think to start answering these questions we have to take a walk down memory lane.
The Hope of Childhood
Can you remember back to your childhood? Think of what made Christmas special to you then?
For me, Christmas was special because it meant time one on one baking with my mom. I rarely got her all to myself but at Christmastime I did. We would play Christmas CDs and sing and bake. Well, really we would melt chocolate and dip things in it. That’s still baking, right?
I remember we both loved the Manhattan Steamrollers. It was an instrumental Christmas CD but we knew all the words and loved to sing along. Our favorite was The Carol of the Bells.
To this day, when that song plays, no matter how hard life is, I feel a moment of hope and joy in the nostalgia. Even with her gone on to Heaven, the hope is there.
Related Post: How to Make a New Family Christmas Tradition
Why is Christmas so Hopeful to Children?
Part of why Christmas is so magical for children is ignorance.
- We didn’t know about dad’s secret drug problem.
- Kids don’t understand that Gran was gossiping about Aunt Laurie.
- We didn’t know that mom borrowed January’s rent money to pay for the new bike we had been begging for all year.
Ignorance was bliss. We could just eat sweets, watch movies, play games and enjoy the cousins we only saw once a year.
Christmas was hopeful because of the gifts and was joyful because of the family.
Adults Lose the Magic of Christmas Because We Can’t Afford Ignorance
If you are trying to re-create the feelings of hope and joy from your childhood but falling short this may be why. We can’t afford ignorance as adults. Knowledge often ruins the fake magic we once felt.
Have you ever tried to manufacture the real hope and joy of Christmas as an adult?
I still do a little. I play The Carol of the Bells on repeat while decorating the Christmas tree with the kids. We watch old Christmas movies and drive around the neighborhood looking at lights.
There might be tingles here or there, but that kind of hope is fleeting. That kind of hope is fake.
Related Post: How to Keep Joy With Anxiety at Christmas in 5 Steps
What is The Real Meaning of Hope?
When I was young I thought hoping was wishing, but hope is not a wish. It’s more like optimism or an expectation of things to come.
The meaning of hope in the Bible is always about expecting the thing that is hoped for.
What Hope in The Lord?
Hope in the Lord is all about expecting God…
Examples of hope range from Abraham, expecting God’s promise to be fulfilled, to John, expecting the second coming of Jesus. In fact, the hope of Jesus return is a theme repeated throughout Scripture.
To get through so many dark years of trials and war, the Israelites had the hope of Jesus’ birth to keep them going. After Jesus returned to Heaven, the new believers kept the hope of eternal life. That is a hope through the atonement of Jesus Christ that they would spend eternity in Heaven.
The feeling of hope is what we are often after, but hope is not a feeling. Hope is a mindset. I believe the benefits of hope far outweigh that feeling. Hope brings new energy and a new commitment, and it spreads like a wildfire!
Related Post: Hope of Christ verses or Hope in Christ verses
Real Hope for Christmas- The Hope of Jesus Birth
If what we were chasing with gifts and lights and traditions is a fake hope, how do we find the real hope for Christmas? Hope and joy that won’t melt away when Christmas ends.
We look at the hope of Jesus verses. We remember that He is the light of the World.
The Light of the World
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
We are the people walking in darkness. We live in the land of the shadow of death.
The good news is hope really doesn’t come from a box or a well-strung string of lights. Real hope came in a manger in the form of the great light – Jesus Christ.
The Prince of Peace
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7 NKJV)
We search for that feeling of Christmas hope, but what we really long for is the peace that came in times past. The good news is, Jesus is the Prince of peace! Of all the hope of Jesus verses, this is my favorite because it shows that what we are looking for is wrapped up in who He is.
He is HOPE.
Real Hope for Christians That Lasts
Jesus Christ, the hope of glory. In God’s great love for us, He sent His One and only Son to give us hope. That is amazing because we are searching for hope. Jesus is the hope we are so desperately seeking.
Most of us, hearing that Jesus is our hope, might be tempted to check out thinking this word is about salvation. No, I am here to tell you that I have been saved for more than 30 years and I still need to search for hope – often.
This world is dark. This life is hard. Busyness creeps in uninvited and complications add pressure to an already hard life… I lose hope 20 times a day in some seasons.
Can you relate?
In a time when the season’s holiday bears the name of our hope – Christmas – still, we need reminders to find our real hope in Jesus! I do at any rate.
How To Embrace the Hope of Jesus Consistently
To find our answer about how to embrace the hope of Jesus, we will look at the story of Christmas. The birth of Christ can teach us about hope and where to place our expectations.
In Luke 1:26-56, we will see that Mary gives a perfect example of how to have hope in the midst of crazy hard, even hopeless circumstances.
- Mary turned to silence and prayer more than complaining.
- She was honest with God about the hard parts.
- Mary surrounded herself with Godly friends.
- She remembered that God is faithful when she could have been consumed with fear.
- Mary praised God rather than dwelling on her problems.
A Character Study of Mary to Teach Hope
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” (Luke 1:26-33 NKJ)
Mary, the mother of Jesus, shows us hope in beautiful ways. Taking the time to study her life is rich and rewarding.
Prayer Brings Hope
We know that Mary was favored by God. Those that found favor with God, throughout the Bible, were those who talked to Him and walked closely with Him.
- Prayer brings hope – real hope – because it keeps us connected to the real source of hope.
Silence Keeps Hope
When faced with a hard situation, a frightening sight, Mary responds with silent contemplation. In fact, we see her respond this way nearly every time something happened in her life that was puzzling.
- She didn’t fly off the handle.
- She didn’t run at the mouth.
- No, Mary was silent.
Silence helps us keep hope alive. Why? Because it doesn’t add more problems to an already difficult situation the way frightened words can.
Does anyone else have that problem?
If I open my mouth when I am scared, things go from bad to worse. Mary serves as a beautiful example of grace in the face of trials through silence and prayer.
Honesty Brings Hope
We can be honest with God about the hard parts.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…
For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:34-37 NKJ)
Something that makes the Bible dear to my heart is that it is so real. Real people with messy problems who face them honestly.
Mary listened in silence but needed to clarify the logistics of the unique burden God was placing on her. She was honest with God about the hard parts. It gives me hope that we can always come to Him honestly when life is messier than we can understand.
Honest Questions Can Bring Hope
The angel didn’t punish her for the question. God didn’t knock down how much he favored her because she had a question. It’s okay to take the hard parts to God and ask for wisdom, discernment, clarification, and even the strength to just keep walking through it.
There is hope in knowing we serve a God who cares about us, and the real, messy things we are facing each day. He is always just a prayer away!
Look to God for the Hope of Jesus
If we want to keep the hope of Jesus, well in Mary’s case the hope of God, we have to look at God and not at the problems we are facing.
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 NKJ)
Questions About The Biblical Christmas Story
Can we be really honest about this situation?
From the world’s point of view, the Christmas story is NOT filled with hope or joy. It’s crazy.
My husband came to faith as an adult and I remember the questions he had about things in the Bible to this day because they struck me so hard. If you grew up in the Church these situations were just accept on faith in Sunday School but take a fresh look today.
“God’s okay with unwed pregnancy?”
“How old was Mary anyway?”
“Why wouldn’t her relatives in Bethlehem let them stay there?”
Mary’s Problems Were Serious!
This is not just some Hope of Christ sermon to make you fel better. This is real life. Mary was facing situations that were HARD… yet she held onto hope.
- She was an unwed teen mother.
- The culture stones women for less.
- If Joseph put her away no one would marry her.
- Women had no status, she would be a beggar raising the Savior.
- The gossip would destroy her reputation.
- Her relatives would disown her.
What if Mary had focused on the problems of this “supposed blessing” from the God who favored her?
Focusing on the Problems Robs Our Hope
If I were in her shoes I would have. In fact, I do it often. Focusing on the problems robs us of our hope!
But when we stop and see God in the midst of the hard situation we have hope. When we give up what we thought life was supposed to look like and embrace the change God wants to bring, we have hope!
Godly Friends Bring the Hope of Jesus
When we stay surrounded with godly, supportive friends we find hope.
“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39 NKJ)
Instead of giving in to the temptation to worry over all the hard parts of the Will of God in Mary’s life, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
Mary surrounded herself with Godly friends which is a sure way to find hope. She found someone she could talk to honestly about the situations she was facing. Not only was this a godly friend, but she was also a godly older woman who, no doubt, poured wisdom and encouragement into Mary’s heart and mind throughout the visit.
When you are faced with crazy situations that feel hopeless, surround yourself with godly friends and mentors. It brings hope!
Remember God is Faithful and Praise Him to Keep the Hope of Jesus
“And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.
“And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:45-48 NKJ)
Mary remembered God’s faithfulness when she could have been consumed with fear. She didn’t ignore the hard parts, she took them to Him directly and believed Him. That speaks so much about her character.
Mary Believed God
She believed in God and trusted Him. This doesn’t just happen in the midst of trying times, no this was a discipline she had to have been developing throughout the boring parts of life.
The foundations of faith grow in the boring parts of life!
It is that foundation that helps us have the hope of Jesus at Christmas!!!!!
- When the Sabbath came, she must have meditated on His Word.
- As she began her days, she must have met with Him in prayer.
- When small challenges arose, she must have sought His will and seen Him prove Himself to her.
It takes a lifetime of faith, in the boring parts, when it’s inconvenient, when no one is watching, to forge the kind of faith that believes God in chaos.
Practiced faith in God, builds the muscle of hope within us so that when we need it most it is strong.Practiced faith in God, builds the muscle of hope within us so that when we need it most it is strong. Click To Tweet
Praise Feeds Hope
To tie a bow on Mary’s story we see that she praised God, even when it didn’t make sense. She didn’t fall down and cry at Elizabeth about how unfair it all was or how hard it all would be. No, Mary praised the Lord.
Hope comes when we praise God, especially when we praise Him in the midst of the hard parts.
Deal With Expectations for The Hope of Jesus
The truth is, there is an underlying message in the Christmas story that I don’t want us to miss. We are a people prone to set expectations. We expect life to go a certain way and when life falls short, our hope fails.
What did you expect this last year would look like?
I had hopes and dreams for this past year. Dreams for my business. Hopes for my family. Very little of what I dreamed this year would look like has come true.
This year has taught me that we control nothing and that is okay because we know the one who controls everything.
What If You Just Expect God?
What if we put all our hope in God? All of our expectations in Him alone as we near the new year?
Expect God to:
- See and listen
- Give wisdom and direction
Throughout the year, there has been a nagging question in my mind. Every single time a goal I set is missed or a hope I had falls short I hear it. What do we do with those unmet expectations?
What if we live each day with open hands, fully surrendered to God’s will, God’s timing, and God’s pleasure – no matter what that looks like?
Real hope comes when our expectation is in Christ alone.
Related Post: Complete Surrender to God Is Hard Without This
Jesus the Hope of the Nations
Our expectations are real and strong. We expect success and happiness and health. The truth however is that the only consistent anything in this world is Jesus. He is the hope of the nations. Jesus is hope when there is no hope.
We have had a lot of that feeling of hopelessness these past few years. Will it ever get better? Maybe… but maybe not. That is exactly why we must shift our expectations. We must expect Jesus. We must remember that out real hope is NOT in this world. Here we see it, our hope is not in this world verse for hope.
“If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20 NASB)
An Eternal Expectation
So what if we never get back to “normal” life again? If we have learned anything through the past few years it is that life is crazy, people are crazier and chaos is normal.
I don’t want normal. I want Jesus.
Instead of trying to find our way back to normal, what if we trashed normal and found our way back to the hope of Jesus?
He rose from the dead. He promised that we would spend eternity with Him in glory. What if we start living like we believe that is the real hope the world needs?
How would your life change if you focused on the hope of an eternity in Heaven? How would your life change if you were determined to bring as many people with you as possible?
Will You Choose the Hope of Jesus for Christmas This Year?
Where in the Bible does Jesus talk about hope? He never said those words exactly, but He is the Word, so any verse about hope is His. We see hope in the verses about His mother, Mary and they are inspiring.
Will you choose the real hope of Christmas this year, the hope of Jesus?
Which step would best help you lean into the true hope of Christ for Christmas?
- Silence instead of complaining.
- Being honest with God about the hard parts.
- Surrounding yourself with godly friends.
- Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus throughout trials.
- Remembering the faithfulness of God in the midst of trials.
- Praising God even when you don’t know how things will end.
Hope is always right there with you, just a prayer away. Lean into Jesus and you can experience real hope at Christmas and every day.
in HIS love,
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