Christmas Hope

 …if you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.
Isaiah 7:9
Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of year. It is a time where we put tinsel and colored lights on everything, making sure nothing is drab or lacking in joy. It is a time of excess when we buy people stuff that they don’t need and eat stuff that we don’t need. It is a time of connection when cards come from old friends and family comes for a visit.
But above all of these things, Christmas is a season of hope. And frankly, hope is something we need more than tinsel or lights, more than gifts or holiday food, more than cards or visits from the in-laws. We could really use hope.
In Hebrews 11, the apostle Paul tells us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is living from hope. It is living from more than circumstances.
Our passage in Isaiah was spoken at a time when hope was hard to come by. It was spoken to the King of Judah just before Judah was about to be invaded. The invasion was going to come. Isaiah the prophet told the King that the only way to withstand the circumstances was with faith. If you have nothing to hope for, there is no way you can stand up in difficult times.
The thing about tinsel and decorations and holiday food and presents is that they do nothing to provide hope.
The thing about Christmas is that it is a season of hope.
A few verses after his statement about standing firm in faith, Isaiah told King Ahaz that God would give hope. A young woman would bear a son and his name will be Immanuel. A young woman having a baby sounds like normal circumstances. Perhaps, if the young woman is young and not ready, it is part of the difficult circumstances. There is little notable in this. But in the midst of these normal circumstances was Christmas. The child would be Immanuel, God among us.
Christmas reminds us that our circumstances are not without hope. Instead, they are pregnant with the presence of God. God is here. God is among us. This is something we can cling to and stand firm.
While we are standing firm, it is a pretty good idea to rejoice and celebrate with a little bit of tinsel and decorations, some gift giving and eating, and whole lot of sharing our hope with each other on Christmas.
Lord Jesus, you give us hope. Help us to know your presence this Christmas. Help us to know the hope that gives us the strength to stand firm. Help us to celebrate in this faith during this Christmas season.

Keenan Barber