Hope Is Never Cancelled

Each of us have been affected one way or another this year by Covid. Things we took for granted have crumbled around us. Cancellations abound. And so many losses in various ways – physically, mentally, emotionally.

There are people already suffering from life’s trials, and Covid repercussions make them all the heavier. We live in a condo with 14 individual units connected by a hallway. One of our neighbors only recently found out she had leukemia and she soon passed away, leaving behind a grieving widower and children and grandchildren. Her body had to be cremated, and the funeral is postponed until April or whenever it is more safe to meet together. They are not the only ones who have had to put memorial services on hold this year.

A mental and emotional toll is draining people of the joy of life. Elderly people who are socially isolated are dying from loneliness. Other people are dying from Covid complications without loved ones beside them. Frontline healthcare workers are over-worked and over-stressed. Addictions and domestic abuse are escalating. Unemployment and homelessness are also increasing. I can’t even begin to list the rippling effects of Covid in households, nursing homes, hospitals, and our world. It’s so sad, isn’t it?

Behind the masks, we can see the defeated looks in the eyes of so many. Is it any wonder why so many don’t feel very celebratory this Christmas season?

But there is a reason to still celebrate! Out of His infinite, unconditional, compassionate love for us, God came down to earth to be born in our human flesh and laid in an animal feed box in a stinking stable. Homeless and helpless. Because of Jesus, hope was born, and that hope is and never will be cancelled.

Because of Jesus, joy and peace can dwell in our hearts. We don’t have to feel guilty to allow joy into our hearts when so many are suffering. Joy can coexist with sadness. Joy is not always dancing and shouting Hallelujahs. Sometimes joy is a quiet confidence and trust that God’s got us, no matter what.

Immanuel – God with us. God will never, ever abandon us, no matter how difficult the journey of our lives. No matter how much it feels like He’s forgotten us, He never will. No matter how much hate and evil is in this world, He has and will bring peace on earth. No matter how hopeless our lives feel, His heart of love and compassion delights to fill us with His eternal hope.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.” Isaiah 40:28-29

“Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.” Psalm 33:22

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

“Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory…”

Despised Ones Are Invited and Welcomed by Jesus

They were unwanted, unappreciated, and unnoticed by society. Despised, disapproved, dirty. Yet God knew them by name. He wanted them. He appreciated them. He noticed each and every one. He even chose them to be the first ones to hear the awesome news of our Savior’s birth.

Shepherds lovingly kept their flocks safe from thieves and wild animals and guarded them from straying and getting lost. Yet society regarded them with contempt. Their occupation was despised. They were denied civil rights of holding a judicial office or being a witness in court. Jewish leaders even commanded no one should buy by-products of their sheep or goats directly from them. (“Shepherd Status” by Randy Alcorn)

They were continually reminded of their insignificance. They must have felt so worthless at times. Yet the King of all kings regarded them from on high. He gave the message of HOPE first to them, not to the high-ranking officials, the rich, or the famous.

The darkness of night robbed them of light, and yet God knew exactly where the shepherds were. He sent an angel and the sunshine of His glory. So glorious that it terrified them. The angel said:

“Don’t be afraid, for look,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people:
Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord,
was born for you in the city of David.
This will be the sign for you:
You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth
and lying in a feeding trough.”
Luke 2:10-12 HCSB

Then suddenly, a vast heavenly choir joined the angel in praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!”
Luke 2:14 HCSB 

What an exciting message! The shepherds hurried to see their Savior with their own eyes. Where? Not in a castle or a palace, but in a stinky stable. Not wrapped in royal robes, but swaddled in tattered cloths.  Not lying on sheets of silk, but in an animal’s feed trough. But by faith, the shepherds saw their Savior, their Rescuer, their Peace-Giver.

Do you feel unwanted?

Jesus says, “Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me.” (Song of Solomon 2:8-10) We are beautiful in His sight. He was born for us and invites us to hope in Him.

Do you feel unappreciated?

Jesus recognizes our worth. He was born because He values us so highly. We are precious and honored in His sight, and He loves us so deeply. (Isaiah 43:4)

Do you feel unnoticed?

Jesus notices us! We are wonderfully created by Him. His thoughts towards us are precious and can’t even be counted. He sees us, no matter where we are, even in the darkest of nights. He knows the innermost pain in our hearts. (Psalm 139)

Praying the Greatest Gift May Fill
Your Hearts This Christmas and Always!

“Unto Us”
by J.J. Heller

“Love wrapped in swaddling clothes
Born to bind up our wounds
All
Weary souls will rejoice
When they hear the good news…”

Thank you all for visiting this year. I appreciate each of you, whether or not you comment. You remain in my heart and prayers. God knows who you are, each and every one. He cares about every little detail of your lives. He invites you into the hope, healing, and freedom that is only possible in Christ Jesus.
I hope to post again on January 2, 2018! Meanwhile, never forget how special you are in Jesus’ eyes!

When Hope Came Down

Weighted down by the heavy yoke of oppression from Assyria, God’s chosen people lost hope. The royal family, once a mighty tree with its branches spreading far and wide, was cut down. Only  a stump remained, its roots decaying to nothingness.

It was from this hopeless stump that a tiny shoot sprouted forth. Unnoticed, ignored, and despised by many. Jesus, fully God, was born on the humbled ground of broken humanity. He became like us to suffer with us and for us.

“God became like us so that we might become like Him.
He came to this dung-filled dungeon we call earth and sat with us,
touched us, loved us, and called us to Him.
He also enters into the dungeons of our hearts
and transforms them.”
Diane Langberg

Is your heart deeply troubled? Does it seem like everything is crashing in on you and around you? Does the enemy of our souls pummel you with lies that there will never be any hope for you? That Jesus didn’t come for you, because you are too dirty and worthless?

God has sent His hope for each of us. Not one of us, no matter how badly we have sinned or how dirty and shamed we feel because of sin against us, is too hopeless for God to rescue and redeem. It is His delight to touch us with His love and grace. His arms are open wide to receive us. His passion for our deliverance seeks after us and draws us.

But sometimes our hearts can feel so dark and despairing that we have a hard time believing it, right? The devil works hard to keep our eyes and hearts closed to the hope Jesus has brought to this world. We look within us and are overwhelmed by our brokenness. We look around us and think there is no peace on earth.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the history of Israel, God proved He reigns and His hope will prevail. Though His people suffered yet many more years of oppression at the hands of enemies, God showed that His sprout of Hope gained the victory. The enemies fell away and decayed while the Sprout grew and flourished. The King over all laid down His crown and was born in a stinky stable. Messiah, our promised Deliverer, came to pile on His love and mercy. To pull us up out of the pit. To invite our starving souls to His rich banquet of unconditional love and bottomless grace.

“He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced His chosen child, Israel;
He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what He promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”
Luke 1:52-55 The Message

“When Hope Came Down”
by Kari Jobe

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy,
fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives,
filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit,
will brim over with hope!”
Romans 15:13 The Message