The headlines of 2020 can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless. Christmas reminds us that Hope is Here. We need this message more than ever. The world is filled with division, lack of trust, violence, hopelessness, and fear. COVID-19 has interrupted everything! Joseph and Mary’s trip to Bethlehem was an interruption. An imposed census, an unplanned trip. The census was not just to count heads but to pay taxes. It was a bad time for another bill! Mary is pregnant, but God is sovereign. He is working behind the scenes to fulfill prophecy. He knows what He is doing. Romans 15:12 says, “And again, Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.’” The root of Jesse is Jesus. He is the Promised One, the Messiah, the Christ, who was born in Bethlehem. Because Jesus came, hope is here. He is Immanuel, God with us. In the very next verse, Paul prays for his friends in Rome: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v. 13). This is my prayer for you and your family as we reflect on the Christmas season and look ahead to 2021.
The Source of Hope
Paul refers to God as the God of hope. We do not have to fear the future because we know the One who controls the future. The Christ who was born in Bethlehem is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing catches Him off guard. Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God? True hope is not wishful thinking or being more positive. Our hope is in God and nothing is too difficult for Him. When you have God, you have hope. If you do not have God, you have no hope. No matter how bad things may look, God has the last word. The song writer said, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.”
The Support of Hope
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…” (v. 13). The best support group you will ever find can be found at church. A recent Gallup poll found that mental health is at an all-time low, but the only demographic with improved mental wellness in 2020 are those regularly participating in worship services. Hope is here! Problems are like bananas, they come in bunches. Hope comes in bunches too. When you read about hope in the Bible, it usually comes in threes. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” You can lose your job, spouse, health, friends, home, or money, but if you have these three you can make it! In Paul’s prayer we see that hope comes with joy and peace. God will not only give you hope; He will add to it joy and peace. Just like the wise men brought three gifts to Jesus, Jesus wants to give you three gifts this Christmas. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Lk. 2:10, 14).
The Strength of Hope
Paul prays this prayer so that his friends “may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Abound means to overflow. God does not want you to be controlled by your past sins, regrets, failures, injuries, and hurts. Stop looking back at all people have done TO you and start remembering what God has done FOR you! Hope is the confidence that our future will be better and brighter than the present. Our family’s life verse is Jeremiah 29:11. It says that Jesus came to give us a future and a hope. The future is as bright as the promises of God. The best is yet to come for those who believe. The first thing the devil did to attack humanity was to put a question mark where God put a period. The enemy of our soul says, “Does God really exist? Does it really pay to serve God?” Hope puts an exclamation point everywhere doubt puts a question mark. Save me and I will be saved! Heal me and I will be healed (Jer. 17:14)! Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5)! Your sons will be taught of the Lord and great will be your children’s peace (Is. 54:13)! No weapon formed against you shall prosper (Is. 54:17)! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4)! All things are working together for good (Rom. 8:28)! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37-38)! Hope is here! Your future will be greater than your past! You are going to be OK!
Let these truths sink into your soul. Be reminded of our source of hope and of the support and strength that hope brings. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Because He lives, we can face a new year.