Christmas is a wonderful season.
It has meant many things to many people over the years. Most often it is seen as a season of hope. It’s a time when everyone is a little nicer, and we intentionally look for ways to help our fellow man.
While it’s certainly worthwhile, admirable and even necessary to assist in giving hope to others, I have a slightly more personal question for you to consider. What are YOU hoping for today? Not what do you want for Christmas, but what’s deep inside your heart?
Just like Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago, we can find ourselves in seemingly desperate situations in daily life with our hope slipping away. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:29 that Mary was “confused and disturbed.” As the angel announced to her that she would give birth to a child, it literally changed everything about her life. She was already engaged and would now have to explain an embarrassing pregnancy in a time when society didn’t just look down upon illegitimacy but completely shunned it. She became an outcast, losing relationships with friends and most likely her family. Any hope for a “normal” life had slipped rapidly through her fingers.
In 1989, I was stranded in Frankfurt, Germany, as a young 19- year -old. I was en route to Johannesburg, South Africa but had missed my connecting flight. The international political climate was quite different then. Direct flights from America to South Africa weren’t available because of Apartheid, and consequently, the next flight didn’t leave for five days. I was becoming frantic. There were really no cell phones then, I didn’t speak German, I had limited cash and no credit cards. I didn’t seem to have any options.
That must have been exactly how Mary and Joseph felt as they attempted to navigate their way through a hopeless situation. Fear must have gripped their hearts. Perhaps that’s why one of the first things the Angel said to both of them was, “Don’t be afraid!” God knew what would happen if they gave into their fears.
As I sat in Germany, with my own fear settling in, I suddenly had a thought: “Isn’t my cousin, who serves in the army, stationed here in Germany? Hope began to fill my heart as I eventually connected with my cousin, Ron, and enjoyed a five-day “vacation” in Frankfurt. Nothing kills hope in our lives more quickly than an unwillingness to believe in the impossible. We believe that because we can’t come up with a solution there must be no other options. I wonder how many miracles God is just waiting to drop into our laps if we would just truly trust Him and stop trying to figure everything out by ourselves?
King David said it well in Psalm 27:13-14: “What would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness . . . Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
Today, regardless of my circumstances and how it may look, I choose to hold on to hope. How about you?
Jason Yarbrough is the pastor of Real Life Church and Principal of Fairfield Christian School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.