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The Promise of Christmas | The Wonderful Reason for Hope

Joy, peace, faith – those commodities seem to be in short supply lately. And as far as rejoicing with choirs of angels? Well, there may be a song in the air, but for many of us it stops short of reaching our hearts. But when we realize Who the promise of Christmas is, we have every reason to rejoice in hope.

Listen to The Promise of Christmas

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that there are so many warm, sentimental words sprinkled around at Christmastime. We see glittery signs declaring “Believe!”, sparkling ornaments embossed with the words Joy, Peace, and Faith. Cheerful Christmas music plays everywhere, and if you listen closely above the din of the stores, and your own flurried thoughts, you can hear calls to rejoice and join in singing with choirs of angels.

Christmas bulb with nativity scene reminds us of the promise of Christmas

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But believe what? Joy, peace, hope – those commodities seem to be in short supply lately. And as far as rejoicing with choirs of angels? Well, there may be a song in the air, but for many of us, it seems to stop short of reaching our hearts.

Directing Our Hearts Towards the Promise of Hope

During the Christmas season, I enjoy reading through an Advent devotional or two. One of my favorites is a devotional that explores several Christmas hymns. I’ve always loved Christmas music because the lyrics, in many cases, are so rich with meaning while the melodies are exquisitely beautiful.

Some carols are brimming with both joy and longing (O Come, O Come Emmanuel). Deep reflection on promises kept, and expectation of promises yet to be fulfilled (Angels, from the Realms of Glory). And profound truths tucked into simple phrases easy enough for a child to sing and memorize (Silent Night, Holy Night).

And each of these songs (and so many others) have one thing in common: they hold the potential to fill us with hope because they call us to turn the eyes of our hearts back to the One who is the Hope of the World.

He is our Hope when sickness ravages our bodies or of the people we love dearly.

Our Hope when the sins of others, and ourselves, bring heartbreak and broken fellowship between each other and between God.

Our Hope when the month stretches on, while the bank account shrinks.

Hope when grief overwhelms us, when the difficulties of life bewilder us, and when the ordinary mundaneness of life leaves us discouraged and defeated.

Our Hope even when Heaven seems silent, while our fears grow louder.

Jesus Christ is our Hope because He is our Messiah, our Emmanuel, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Reconciler, our Provider, our Prince of Peace.

And He keeps His promises.

Christmas Candles remind us of God's Light

Centuries of Silence While Waiting for the Promise

Four long centuries of silence had passed between the last time God had spoken to His people through His prophets. In the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi, a promise had been made that “unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings…” (Malachi 4:2a).

But 400  years had come and gone, and the world had never looked bleaker. The Roman government had wholly overtaken Israel, God’s chosen people, from whom would come the Saviour of the world.  Corrupt religious leaders had clouded the worship of God and were using the years of silence to their advantage to achieve their selfish desire for power and gain.

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A Few Watched and Waited with Faith

There were still a handful of people who were waiting, watching, believing. They had not lost hope. These delightful characters from the Christmas story are real people whose pure faith still inspires and challenges us to this day. Simeon and Anna, two elderly people who served God faithfully in the temple while they waited for the promised Messiah. A few wise men who traveled from foreign lands, following a star, searching for a newborn King. A group of lowly shepherds who must have been longing for their Shepherd to come to their aid. Then there was Elisabeth and Zacharias, a couple who were well past childbearing years, yet had never given up the hope of having a child of their own, nor on the coming Messiah.

And Mary and Joseph, a young betrothed couple, with nothing fancy to their name, but with hearts devoted to God above all else.

And then the day came.

Just ordinary days, with ordinary people going about their everyday business. But in one instant, the realization of the fulfillment of God’s promises broke upon their world like a brilliant sunrise after the deep darkness of night. One morning each of those people awoke and set about their typical day. But on that day, everything changed. Forever.

And that little baby boy, born in a stable, swaddled and laid to sleep in a manger, a feeding trough for barnyard animals, did not stay a baby. We tend to leave the story there, with the shepherds and wise men worshiping the newborn King. Doubtless, it is an awe-inspiring account of the profound love and reach of our God. But if that were the end of the story, it would have little meaning beyond a sentimental tale.

A simple nativity scene reminds us of God's promises.

Beyond the Baby Swaddled in a Manger

Jesus Christ grew into manhood, fully God yet fully man. He lived a sinless life, and three short years into His earthly ministry, He was crucified on a cruel Roman cross. Though the crowds cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”, Jesus made it clear that no one was taking His life; He was laying it down willingly, as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. For my sins and your sins.

And once again, the world plunged into a terrible darkness. It seemed that this time, evil had one.

But it had not. In fact, this was all part of God’s perfect plan. And once again, there were promises about to be fulfilled. Only this time, it only took three days.

And once again, Light pierced the darkness. The stone was rolled away, and Christ rose victorious over the grave, defeating death and making the way for all who would put their faith in Him for the forgiveness of their sins and their hope of eternal life. Before He returned to Heaven, He promised that He would one day return.

And so, there are promises still to be kept. While we eagerly await the day of His return, we cling to His promises for the strength and provision that we need for each day.

Christmas Reminds Us of Promises Yet to be Kept

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately. In a world as chaotic as ours is right now, despair seems to hang over us like a gloomy mist—sickness, fear, uncertainty, loneliness, political unrest. Sin in all its horror, ever-tightening its grip on this world. These words from a classic Christmas carol seem fitting:

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!”

Do you recognize those words? They come from the beautiful Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the famous American poet, penned those words in 1863 during America’s Civil War. But you need to hear the rest of the song:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

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!”

Can you relate to Longfellow’s sentiment of despair? Thankfully, he didn’t stop the song there. The final verse goes on to declare:

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!”

An open Bible tells us of the birth of Christ and reminds us of the Promise of Christmas

So next time you see a pretty sign declaring “Believe!” let it remind you to believe with all your heart in the promises of God. To remember with gratitude what He has done in the past, and what He promises He will do in the future. When you see sparkly ornaments with words like “Joy,” “Peace,” and “Faith” embossed on them,  let them serve as a call to check your heart for the presence of those qualities, and if they are lacking, to ask God to work in your heart to produce them. Carve time into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to spend extra time focusing on the God of all hope. (I highly recommend choosing a devotional, such as this one, to read through during the month of December).

And amid all the noise and circumstances swirling around you, let your heart grow still and quiet long enough to hear –  truly listen to –  the sweet song in the air. Lift your voice in singing of the wonders of Christ’s birth! And perhaps, if you listen closely, you just might hear choirs of angels join in along with you as you sing the joyful songs of promises fulfilled and promises yet to come.

Signature of Author

For Further Reading:
Matthew 1 and 2
Luke 1 and 2

P.S. Do you need a last-minute Christmas gift idea? This Cranberry and White Chocolate Christmas Cookie mix-in-a-jar is a wonderful gift for friends and family!

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  1. Mom and I listened to both audios tonight. Well done! Inspiring!
    I dug out some old song books. We can sing “I heard the bells” at our next Christmas song time.
    God bless you and Paul as you raise four boys to love Jesus! You are doing a good job! I don’t say encouraging words enough! They are loved and you’ve made a tremendous impact in their lives! ( I think I have too many exclamation points! Hehe.) Anyway…
    Love you!!

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