Christmas is usually focused on cheer. Everything is merry and bright. I don’t think in my 29 years of life I have ever experienced a Christmas with a dark cloud over it. I’m not sure it ever would have occurred to me to know where or how to begin to relate to someone in such a situation, but when you suddenly find someone close to you there, knowing how to walk with them through grief during Christmas becomes a matter of love. I pondered the question, desperately hoping for an answer— something to break the silence of devastation and loss. I asked myself how Christmas related to hopelessness. Then a realization sparked. Hopeless was exactly what the people of Israel were when Jesus was born into the world.
Within the narrative of the Bible are 39 Old Testament books that tell the history of a people who experienced failure after failure and consequence upon consequence. A people infected through and through with sin and the misery it brings. A people who threw away chance after chance to repent and turn to God. A people who were told by the prophets that God had assured their utter destruction because of their disobedience. This destruction came through captivity.
Generations later the restoration God had promised began. Israel returned to their homeland. This was a small beginning to what Israel had longed for, and as they waited and waited, their hope began to dwindle. Rome ruled over them with an iron fist and the fulfillment of God’s promise seemed utterly stalled. Israel was weary and disheartened. This is the darkness into which the light of the angel’s announcement shone: “A Savior was born for you.”
Never have there been better words offered in the midst of brokenness. An entire nation displaced and wandering, faith waning, no hope for a future, hears the words “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy.” Words which signified an alternative ending to their story had been provided. Hope. Eternal, forever, unchanging hope. Hope undefined by circumstances because it is anchored in the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Today someone needs to hear about hope. The world is still weary. Sin is still bringing destruction and hopelessness is imposing its heavy burden on the shoulders of someone you know—maybe your own. And you’re choking for air, desperate to stay above the tumultuous sea of troubles swirling around you…all the while the expectation for cheer and harmony make the void all the more glaring.
The angel’s message is for you. There is a Rescue that reaches beyond your present circumstances—not minimizing or ignoring them—but superseding them. Look to Jesus for peace that does not spoil or fade. Look to the newborn King for healing and hope:
“he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18:30-33)
“And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
“Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
Christmas came for a people swallowed up in darkness, and it is here again for you. Fall on your knees beside the manger, let Him lift your burdens. Weep and worship the Savior.