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…”

Awakening a Childish Wonder to the Lowly Birth of Jesus

Jesus came

We lay on our backs on the lawn in the stillness of the night. Stars winked and dazzled us as my big brother said, “Just wait and watch…”

“There! Did you see it?” he whispered, as if he would spoil the awe of it if he talked too loud.

“Yes! Yes! I saw it! Cool!” I gazed in wonder, waiting for another one.

That was decades ago. When my heart still held childish wonder and delight. Where has it gone? That cause for admiration or astonishment. That emotion of excitement at something new and remarkable.

That’s what I want in this Advent season. I want a renewal of wonder at the birth of Jesus. An excitement at this Gift as if I opened it for the first time. I want to unwrap the deeper layers of it. Not the surface of it with a hollow and empty celebration. I don’t want my heart to be passively content. I want to get excited about the Unspeakable Gift of Jesus coming down to us. I want to be amazed, to be still with awe, to awaken to the wonder of it all.

“The natural gift of wonder God gave us
as children was meant to be kept alive.
Instead we let wonder go to sleep.
We entered the typical dream state of most humans.

Why else does Jesus tell us today,
‘Stay awake!’…Advent says,
‘Wake up and realize the gifts
of love you have received.’”
(Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem., The Priest, Oct. ‘87, p.26)

Have we lost that gift of wonder at something so miraculous? Perhaps somewhere along the way, the harsh realities of life have snuffed it out? Has the wondrous miracle of Jesus’ birth become an ordinary yearly event? Are we too busy to ponder it prayerfully in our hearts?

I know we can never fully understand it on this earth, but I’m afraid my heart has become passive to delving deeper into the wonder of God coming down as Man. God was willing to come down and be born in human form, to suffer as a human the excruciating death of the cross for us. To die and rise again so we could be free forever from the punishment due to our sins.

That same Almighty God who has the power to create and hold those stars in the skies came down off His throne. That same God who gave a bright star to guide the wise men to Jesus the Savior humbled Himself to live among the lowly. He came down, down, down… Down to the depths of humanity. Not to be born in a fancy palace, but in a lowly stable, probably stinking from manure. To cry from hunger or pain as other babies do.

What king would ever come down to the level of suffering with the poor? This King would! Now that is great love! Unmatchable, unconditional, unfathomable love!

“For you are recognizing [more clearly] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
[His astonishing kindness, His generosity, His gracious favor],
that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,
so that by His poverty you might become rich (abundantly blessed).”
2 Corinthians 8:9 AMP

Though He was God,
He did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up His divine privileges;
He took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When He appeared in human form,
He humbled Himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Phillipians 2:6-8 NLT

“But when the right time came, God sent
His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.
God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law,
so that He could adopt us as His very own children.”
Galatians 4:4-5 NLT

I know that in the midst of darkness and suffering, it’s hard to hang onto this hope. But let’s remember it’s the hopeless He has come for. Let’s try to retrieve our childish wonder for such an unimaginable miracle. May we recognize more clearly His astonishing favor for us. May our jaws drop in wonder at the boundless love He has for people filled with the filth of sin. For the broken souls who need His powerful cleansing, healing, and enlightening.

A Child's Trust

“When Love Came Down to Earth”
by Stuart Townend
sung by Kristyn Getty, Margaret Becker, Joanne Hogg

“When love came down to earth
And made His home with men
The hopeless found a hope
The sinner found a friend
Not to the powerful
But to the poor He came
And humble hungry hearts
Were satisfied again”

Dearest Lord Jesus, please give us and renew in us
a childish wonder at Your humble birth.
Thank You for loving us so deeply!



Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers