Let me set the stage. My home is cold right now. The furnace once again isn’t working. I’m longing for the days when we had a wood-burning stove and lived in a tiny house nestled in the woods. Our home now sits on a hill and is struck by harsh winds from all sides, much of the winter. There is calming instrumental Christmas music playing as I hear the wind whistle through any nook and cranny it can get through. Meanwhile, the stove is simmering bone broth and the aroma is comforting and gentle. There are two children already up who are noisily playing.
Stuck in the confines of my head are the rigors of life. My husband became unemployed for the first time in his life last month and a situation we hoped to be out of in a few weeks has now dragged on for over a month. Despite me working three jobs to try and make the gaps meet, our bank accounts are 100% dried up…all of them. Our fourth pregnancy has been a disaster and each morning as I wake up at 2 am to work these three jobs, I feel as though I’m going to crack. His car broke down a week ago, our furnace sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Homeschooling has been rough this past month as we settle into a new normal. Meanwhile, multiple personal relationships have been either severed or have been damaged severely over the course of the last four months.
As I decorated for Christmas this year, I cried. Would this be our last Christmas in what we planned to be our forever home? Will we ever crawl our way out of this mess? Jesus, do you really care? Are you punishing us for something?
What benefit does it serve to tell you all of this? Am I trying to gain sympathy? Empathy? Am I simply being dramatic? Goodness, I hope not. I’ll let God work those details out as I pray about this post. I’m setting the stage, because of what I want to say about Christmas this year.
We’re not alone in a year of hardships. Far from it. Our economy has left many families in an unemployment situation. Relationship strains are no new phenomena. I trust that dry bank accounts do not only afflict us. I’m not the only pregnant woman who has needed to work multiple jobs to provide for her family. In fact, there are many people struggling worse than us. I know of mamas whose arms once held a daughter at Christmas that now sit empty. I know of families who once again opened a foreclosure notice on their beloved homes. I know of business owners who are shutting their doors to their dreams. Our hard situations are not unique and despite them, we are still blessed. Your hard situations are not unique and once again you are still blessed.
Let’s simply skim over the news headlines that we have all seen in 2023. We know what they read, we know what they imply. We know the political turmoil that has threatened to send many of us into a panic.
I entitled this article “Christmas Hope”, for a reason. You see despite whatever stresses are being thrown your way there is a larger story being told. Your story does not prove hardness but instead proves hope.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 ESV
Why do we hope at Christmas? Is it because of the nativity story? Yes, but let’s go deeper. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible and only a small portion mention the birth of Jesus. The ritual and tradition of Christmas in the church calendar are important, but the holiday is also such a minuscule portion of our faith. I love Christmas. From the decorations, music, gift-giving, and family traditions, I love it all. But too often, I find myself lacking hope at Christmas because of how built up the holiday is in my head. So let’s look beyond the obvious.
Let’s dissect three reasons for hope this Christmas.
Jesus is our ultimate hope
Our main reason to hope this Christmas is because Jesus came to earth and he not only died for us, he also lived and lives for us! Isn’t that good news? Our hope does not rest in the latest trending news or our personal situation. Our hope does not rest in the potential for our comfort in our job status, financial situation, or relationships, our hope rests in the never-ending promises of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
He came to live on this earth, he lived a perfect life, he died in your and my place on the cross, and he was resurrected to live again as our Lord and Savior. That is our Christmas hope! But if that was not enough, we have many other reasons to hope.
There is no greater hope than the hope of Jesus. We hear that a lot in the Christian community, but really let the implications sink in for a second. If your hope is in Jesus your entire being should be at rest. Is Jesus your hope for this Christmas? Rest in your ultimate hope.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;Psalm 16:9 NIV
my body also will rest in hope,
There is no reason to fear
I’m sure we could all come up with reasons to fear.
My list could go on, couldn’t it? You could add your own bits of fear to this list. But 2 Timothy 1:7 boldly declares that we do not have a reason to be timid this Christmas. We have reason for power, love, and self-discipline.
Take those words to heart and apply them to your unique situation. Maybe instead of resting in the fear of financial crisis, you change your inner script.
Instead of letting your mind say, “I don’t know how we are going to get through this season financially.” Change that inner script to. “I don’t know how we are going to get through this season, but I have no reason to fear because God has not made me timid! By his sustaining power, we will get through.”
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
Your deepest thirst has already been satisfied
A deep human longing is to be fulfilled. So we look for it in places. In jobs, families, friends, stuff, and tasks. Yet those things will never truly satisfy our hearts. They may bring a twisted form of contentment, but they will not make our hearts whole. The only thing in this world that will do that is the mystery of Christ. He will satisfy you this Christmas and also far beyond.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.Colossians 1:27 NIV
Stop accepting sin. Be gone with worldly things that trap you in sin and regret. Jesus came to earth to live and die for your sins. Repent and turn away from your sin. Jesus came so you can have an abundant life, a full life, a hope-filled life. Your cup can overflow with His blessings.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10 NIV
Our Christmas Hope Rests Secure
I said earlier that your story does not prove hardship, but instead proves hope. Really take a moment to soak in 1 Peter 1:3-6.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.1 Peter 1:3-6 NIV
What really strikes me about this verse is that first little section. Do you see it? It says to be joyful in hope. Yet we know from other verses in the Bible that our hope rests not in ourselves, but in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. This is it. This is the whole point of why I’m writing this. Your hardship this Christmas season proves that our hearts should long for something more. Not even the joy of Christmas will fulfill the hope we long for. It proves that we are living in a sinful world and we will encounter difficulties, but it points us, it proves to us, that it welcomes a deeper hope.
I have a hard time looking toward heaven as a pregnant mom with three little kids 5 and under. Truthfully, a ‘hard time’ is an understatement. I don’t really want to think about it. I know my heart should long for it, but what my heart really longs for Jesus’ peace in my family. Ultimately that is heaven, but it’s really hard to wrap my mind around that in this season. If you are in a similar season, don’t feel guilty. Simply remember that our hope, our peace, our salvation points to something deeper than this world can ever offer. Even the joy of our children pales in comparison. Remember that and allow sanctification to slowly change your actions, words, and feelings.
When I read a verse like Romans 12:12, I can’t help but think that our hope cannot waver. It can’t waver because Christ does not change. We are joyful in our hope, we are patient in our affliction, and we are faithful in prayer. All of this is due to the living hope of Jesus.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12 NIV
Are you struggling this Christmas season? Maybe you are going through an even more difficult situation than we are. Maybe our situation felt painfully similar to yours. Maybe the holiday season has drudged up memories that are best left buried. Whatever the case may be, I want you to remember that your pain points to hope. My fingers tensed at writing that. It’s our human tendency to think of pain as punishment, but if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I want you to flip that script and instead start thinking of it as hope. Hope for what is to come. Hope in the eternal versus the temporal. Hope in Jesus.