When I was an 18-year-old boy I saw a song on MTV that claimed my heart and mind. It was so beautiful I wanted to listen to it again and again very badly. Unfortunately, however, there was no YouTube or Spotify at that time. You had to purchase the Audio CD which I couldn’t afford. Still, I was so obsessed with the song that I bought a pirated copy for a fraction of the price after combing the black market. “Hope” is the name of that song and the artist is known as Shaggy.
Speaking of hope the dictionary defines the term as, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.” You can survive forty days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air but not even a single second without hope. When hope dies faith dies with it. You need hope to cope. Hope is a fundamental need of life. It is why I want to talk about Hope to Cope this Christmas.
If I am to speak plainly; I shall say the years 2020 and 2021 have been utterly hopeless periods in our time of human history. I also believe all of us can agree there’s no guarantee that 2022 will be any better either. This morning even as we have gathered to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, I want to answer a very important question. “Is there any hope at all today?” The answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why?
1. We are not alone with our Circumstances
In the Bible, we find at least fifty other names and titles for Jesus. However, the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1 verse 23 perhaps records the most glorious name of all. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel which means, God with us.” (NLT). We might take these words for granted today but for Joseph, it was a spark of hope after four hundred years of silence!
At the time Jesus was born people had three major struggles. There were many uncurable diseases that killed many people. Demon possession was very common. The Romans occupying the land persecuted them greatly. Above all God was silent and all the prophecies had ceased. It was in such an utterly hopeless time in history that Christ was born. Maybe the prophet Isaiah summarized the situation best, (Isaiah 9:2).
We are living in such a time today. The children of the world have lost all and any hope but we the children of God still have hope. We’re not alone because Emmanuel is with us. He has promised to grace us with his presence all the time. He is alive in our midst when we gather in his name (Matthew 18:20), He will be with us to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
There are people whose presence alone inspires hope in others. Then how much more the presence of God should inspire hope in you? If the presence of God can’t give you hope to cope, it’s because you are distracted by your circumstances. Just like the people in Jesus’ time were distracted and failed to recognize God’s presence, (John 1:11). You can’t focus on Emmanuel and your circumstances at the same time. It will cut off your hope. Shift your focus from your circumstances to Emmanuel this Christmas.
2. Nothing can come between us and God
The year 2021 for me was a year full of hardships. Not just because of the pandemic but it was also the year my father was called home to be with the Lord, unexpectedly! Then in the year 2022, I lost an uncle and an aunt to the pandemic. Just two months ago I lost my best friend in a car accident. Today you also might be grieving the loss of a loved one or feeling lost in your circumstances.
If you are feeling that way, I want to draw your attention to the book of Romans chapter 8 from verses 31 to 39. In them, Paul challenges us with a series of questions but the most challenging of them all is “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ (or the love of God for that matter)?” He wants us to name at least one circumstance in life that could separate us from God.
The answer is absolutely nothing. Not even death has the power to separate us from God. It makes us more than conquerors through Christ! Ofcrouse death can still separate us from our loved ones, but only for a short period of time, (1 Corinthians 15:54). It gives us hope to cope even when the rest of the world has lost all hope.
There’s one condition, however. Death doesn’t have the power to separate you from God and the rest of his children only as long as you accept Christ as the savior of your soul. If you rejected Christ in the life before death, you are going to be separated from him also in the life after death. Do you know he is knocking on your door today, (Revelation 3:20)? Will you answer his call? Let me be blunt. You have absolutely no hope in this life or in the life to come unless you surrender your life to Christ.
3. We have got hope for more than a Season
Last Christmas I hoped the year 2022 will turn out to be much better. After all, Christmas is a season that rekindles our hopes for a new beginning. Then the year 2022 turned out to be even worse. A grand disappointment. At this moment the global COVID 19 death toll remains at 267,387,468 (Two hundred sixty-seven million three hundred eighty-seven thousand four hundred sixty-eight) Source: Worldometers. I was overwhelmed with frustration.
The problem was I was so much caught up in what God had done in the past during the Christmas season, I forgot to be looking forward to his second coming. His second coming will be such a glorious event, in Titus chapter 2 verse 13 Paul calls it the “Blessed Hope”. “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (NKJV)
Paul says “Looking for…” What is it that we are supposed to be looking for? The redemption of our bodies, minds, and souls of course. When I say redemption, I am not talking about freedom from sin alone but the lifting of the curse of sin. The curse through which sickness and death entered this world. When the curse is broken we will become immortal, and death shall have no power over us anymore, (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
Paul is concluding his argument in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 with an exhortation. “So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved!” (NET). Today even as I bring this message to its closing, I want to urge you not to lose hope in the face of your circumstances. Remember, our present sufferings are nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us on the day of Jesus’ second coming. Knowing the blessed hope gives us hope for more than a season can help us hope to cope.
Christmas might never be the same again, for most of us (I know it won’t be for me…) but I do know this for a fact. God is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. He doesn’t change. Never! It may seem all is over but in the book of Proverbs chapter 23 verse 18 God says, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” It’s a promise and we know God’s promises have stood the test of time, always.
In closing, I would like to tell you a story about hope. It is said of a man who approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He inquired of a boy in the dugout about the score. “Eighteen to nothing-we’re behind,” the boy replied. “I’ll bet you’re discouraged,” the onlooker replied. “Why should I be discouraged?” the young lad said. “We haven’t even taken the field yet!”
Don’t throw the towel when circumstances whisper in your ears, it’s over! you are done! With God, there’s always a second chance. My prayer is that today whatever you may be going through – look to God – not to the new norm, social distancing, and vaccination. I mean, by all means, get vaccinated, practice social distancing, and exercise caution but don’t place your hopes in them. After all, God alone is the source, the author, and the architect of our hope.
If this content was helpful to you, please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom, sharing it with friends and family via email and social media, or both. It would be a great encouragement to me and a contribution to the edification of the Church.