The trees are lit, the green is hung. The shopping is nearly complete, and the lists have been sent to Santa. Families are preparing menus, and schedules, and travel plans. Christmas is almost upon us. As Christians, we look at the manger with eyes of amazement, remembering that Jesus Christ’s amazing journey on this earth had such a humble start. As the excitement builds, and joy fills the air, it’s easy to forget that this can be a very difficult time for some people. Inside our church, our places of employment, and even our own homes, we interact with people each and every day that face some form of depression, loneliness, or sadness during the holiday season.
Some deal with a depression that comes from a deep rooted place, from events that happened years ago, that have never been addressed or diagnosed properly. The results are the feelings of despair and dread…emptiness…a loss of hope. Others are dealing with the loss of loved ones. Personally, three members of my extended family are dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. Some are waking up this morning without a job. Some are wondering where and how they’ll be able to give their children any Christmas gift at all, let alone the “cool toys” their children are hoping to receive. Somewhere, a marriage is crumbling, and there seems to be no hope in saving what’s left. All of this weight upon our shoulders can make this time of year even harder than it is usually. The stress, the busyness, the loss, the despair…all of it is magnified when we’re supposed to be feeling joyous. The fact we are not joyous, adds even more pressure to us as we try to cope with what life has handed us at that moment. As it all rolls together, like a snowball growing as it speeds down a hill, life can feel…hopeless.
Life, as a Christian, is not guarded from these feelings. Time and time again, the Bible shows us that, regardless of one’s maturity in our walk with the Lord, tough times will happen.
As my heart aches for those who will be hurting this Christmas, dealing with depression and loss, and feelings of hopelessness, I find comfort in one thing, and one thing only. It all goes back to the manger. While the cross is the symbol of eternal salvation, the manger is a symbol of hope. The very day Jesus was born, hopelessness and despair died. While I know you may be hurting right now, I want you to know that Jesus Christ, the Savior and giver of Eternal Life, for all mankind, cares about you. Jesus loves knowing you, and caring for you, individually. There is no need for an intermediary, or a celestial collection of planets or stars, or whatever else you may think you need to seek in terms of finding comfort; There. Is. Jesus.
The very one who made you, came to give you hope. Let me elaborate on that, by sharing with you some key verses about hope, from God’s word itself:
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to all the believers who have died so that you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”
1 Peter 1:5 “And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”
As we share time with friends and family over the next few weeks I want you to pay special attention to your surroundings. I want you to be looking out for these people, the ones who are hurting. Even if you are hurting yourself, you can find comfort in sharing your story with others…as they’ll find comfort in sharing theirs with you. The power of Jesus Christ fills all voids in our life. As we feel twinges of negative feelings begin, we need to cling to God’s word. There is truly only one kind of hope that will never let us down, or disappoint…and that is the hope offered through Jesus.
Regardless of what physical gifts you may receive this year, my hope and prayer is that you’ll look first for the gift God gave us…in a manger, many years ago. A gift wrapped in swaddling clothing, born to a virgin mother, in a manger because there was no room at the inn. The gift, of Jesus Christ, and the hope He gives us through all of our life, is an incredible present. It always fits, it never needs returned, and while He also had a “black Friday”, the price paid for this gift is worth more than any other gift you will ever receive.
I wish you all a beautiful Christmas, filled with love, laughter, and hope everlasting.
In His precious name,
Eric J. Wasson