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Hope for the Holidays

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Hope for the Holidays

Luke 2:8–18 (NASB95) — 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Most of us love the Christmas season. It is a time for family and friends. We give and receive gifts. We eat together and have get-togethers where we eat cookies and sweets and big meals.

All of this sounds good but when we go below the surface of the holiday season, the realities of our lives have a way of pushing the holiday trimmings to the side and replacing them with the underlying struggles in our lives. We don’t like to talk about the pain we experience. In fact, we'd like to push those thoughts aside and pretend they aren't happening.

Broken relationships

Even during the Christmas holidays, relationships remain one of our biggest challenges. They sometimes break and cause our hearts to shatter. Or they can be repaired and restored when we learn we can lean on Christ for the needed assistance.

Failing marriages

Marriages continue to be the most important relationships in the church. When the couples walk in-Christ, they can be a testimony of the difference He can make in their relationship. At the same time, many marriages still struggle, falter and crack apart leaving broken and stunned bodies in the wake of that splitting.

Spiraling Finances

Christ-centered families can find stability in their finances when they realize everything is His including their finances. However, other families who try to go-it-alone can find themselves facing earthquake-like struggles when they focus finances on their own will and wants.

Internal Struggles

Our walk with Christ can be such a blessing during the holidays. It can give us encouragement and hope to work on those personal struggles and character flaws that cause us pain and problems. But, when those bad behaviors are left unaddressed, they can cause destructive ripples through the relationships, circumstances and events in all areas of our lives.

Loss of a Loved One

Death still crashes in on us destroying the very relationships we cherish. But for those of us who are Christ-followers, we mourn like everyone does, however our mourning is not the same as those who have no hope. Christ is our hope. He comforts our mourning hearts. And we find additional hope in the new life we see in the birth of babies. Just like that scene around the manger where those shepherds found hope for the future in Christ Jesus.

Feelings of Hopelessness

When I read the passage above the shepherds were living and working in the darkness of the night. That reminds me of how we can live in darkness of our world when Christ is not at the center of our lives. Darkness has a way of confusing us and robbing us of our hope in the midst of that darkness. Darkness makes it difficult for us to see life clearly and find our direction.

There is Hope

But something happened to the shepherds that night long ago. The glory of the Lord lit up the skies and their lives. As we move forward in these holidays, difficulties and struggles will continue to shatter lives. People will continue to face all of the struggles the world throws at us. And, like the shepherds we will be faced with the choice of darkness versus the light found in a personal relationship with Jesus. The choice is ours to make. We can face life on our own, seeking our own will and trying to fulfill every need our hearts and minds can think of. Or, we can surrender our lives to Him and walk in-Him daily. We can find help, healing and hope in Him. He can allow Christ to change our pain into joy and our failures into hopefulness.

My prayer for each of us this Christmas season is that like the shepherds we run to the Savior and let Him make the difference in our lives that He made in the lives of the shepherds. All it takes is taking that first step. Life will go on and we will have difficulties and struggles, but Jesus can be our hope no matter what we face.

Merry Christmas in-Him,

Pastor Ray