“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)
It seems like every time I walk in a store, turn on the TV, or get in my car, the same song is playing…touting that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…[that] everyone’s telling you be of good cheer….[and that] it’s the hap-happiest season of all.” Some years I have danced and twirled around my kitchen, as I baked Christmas goodies, singing right along. Other times I’ve questioned the sentiment.
I spent one Christmas battling flu and pneumonia, missing every Christmas program that my children were in, every special event at our church, and every party. That didn’t exactly feel “wonderful”. One year I found myself in a fierce battle with depression. Somehow everyone telling me to “be of good cheer” only threatened to push me deeper into the pit.
This year our family is experiencing grief. My Granddaddy passed away the week before Thanksgiving. He is spending his best Christmas ever…with Jesus. And we’re thankful that God was merciful and took Him Home, as he suffered so in the days before his death. We know that his hope was realized! But for those of us left here, there’s an empty chair at the table. There’s a little less laughter. We’re not being “patted” or getting smooshy, wet kisses on our foreheads. He left behind his “little sweetie” my Grandmother, who is feeble and has dementia…unable to process the fact that he’s not coming back. We have hope…but there are surely days that we don’t feel our hap-happiest.
As I looked through the obituaries during the days following his death, my heart broke for the many families that are walking through grief this holiday season…those that have lost mothers and daddies, sons and daughters…some far too soon in our eyes. Just this week, I saw on TV a memorial service for a large group of young marines that lost their lives on behalf of our country…leaving young wives and children and parents.
For others, their grief takes a different form. It might come from despair over wayward children, families shattered by divorce, loved ones fighting addictions. Cancer and serious illness fills hospitals around the world. Many are in dire straits because of financial difficulties. Some are homeless. Some are just alone.
But as the words to another Christmas tune ring, “Hope for the hopeless was born on that night…let there be light.” Yes, light in a world that can often be filled with darkness! There is hope for those who trust in the Savior! And opportunities for us to minister to those who don’t.
Something occurred to me as I pondered these things. Do you think that just for a brief moment…right before God sent Jesus on His way to earth…that He felt just an inkling of hopelessness? He knew ahead of time the odds that were stacked against His one and only…the hatred and rejection He would face…the human hurts that He would experience…the ultimate agony in death. Yet, He allowed it…because He loved us so much. He knew the hope to come! He sacrificed His only Son to bring hope to the hopeless. Let’s remember that prophecy fulfilled…“to us a child is born, to us a Son is given….And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) He is our Emmanuel…God with us…our hope.
Everlasting Father, wrap us in your comfort this Christmas. Help us to see the hope that is in You. Cause Your Holy Spirit to fill us with that hope. Help us to see Your light in the darkness. Lord, help us to extend Your love to those around us that are in need. Help us to be Your arms and feet in a world in desperate need of a Savior…and a hope.