A Gift of Hope
Read: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-7
The world Jesus was born into was one full of political unrest and spiritual uncertainty. Rome ruled over Israel, and God had not spoken to His people in around four hundred years. But, in the tiny little town of Bethlehem, God was ready to shake things up in a BIG way through the long foretold arrival of the Messiah.
Now, more than 2,000 years later, the world seems to transform for almost a whole month in anticipation of Christmas. After all, it’s the “most wonderful time of year,” right? So, why do so many battle feelings of worry and despair similar to what the Israelites felt? You’ve just survived a house full of relatives at Thanksgiving - and you aren’t quite sure how you can handle them again in just a few weeks’ time. Your boss is “bah-humbug” and could not care less about your obligations outside the office. Your spouse feels more like a roommate. You’re not sure how you can afford everything you want to give the kids, and in a season full of nativity scenes and songs about Jesus in a manger, it feels like God has fallen silent in your life. You’ve found yourself trapped in a cycle of fear and anxiety, and desperately need a little hope in your life.
There’s a detail in the Christmas story that’s easy to overlook, but one that should not be missed. In Matthew 1:23, we are told that Jesus will be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” For the first time, God wouldn’t be out of reach. In a stable, as Mary gave birth, hope pierced through the darkness to enter a broken world and reside with us - forever. Christ was with us. Because of that act, we are able to have a personal relationship with the hope of the world. And I don’t know about you, but that is a gift I never want to exchange, return or stash in the back of my closet.
Pray: God, thank you for your gift of hope. As I struggle with fear and anxiety, as I find it hard to look forward to the holiday season, remind me of the hope you brought into the world. Remind me that You are with me, and that I never have to be alone.