On Sunday in worship, Amber mentioned that every year there seems to be a new meaning to Christmas that she missed before. She encouraged us to look for it for ourselves and we would not be disappointed. I was reflecting on that thought and immediately my mind went to HOPE. It’s a  simple word with a deep and precious meaning.

The whole world was waiting in anticipation for the birth of Jesus. It was a dark time for many people in that era. Isaiah 9 indicates that Jesus coming into the world was like a light coming into the darkness. In addition to being in spiritual darkness, the people were also under the oppressive rule of Rome.

The birth of Jesus itself broke all ideas of kingliness that anyone may have had. He was born to a virgin, to parents living in poverty, and if that wasn’t unusual enough, was then pursued by King Herod, who wanted to kill Him. His family ended up running for their lives with no permanent home for a season. This is not the way I would've written the story at all.

But in that difficult time, in that dark period of history, there was something beautiful. It was like a little candle flickering in a dark room. It was the prayers of the saints, the breath of the scholars; it was HOPE.

Many of us have experienced deep pain this past year. Most of us know heartache, sorrow, and grief. Whether it be from broken relationships, pain, suffering, loss of loved ones, or financial difficulties, we all know what it feels like to be at the ‘end of our rope’. And for some, this new year stretching before us has some mountains to climb and some deep valleys to walk.

But this light, this HOPE was breaking through, and it would be glorious. John 1:9 says, ”The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

The story wasn’t over. The end was not in sight. Instead, the story was just beginning, and the end would be a beautiful story of hope and redemption for all mankind.

No matter how dark your hard seems, don’t lose HOPE. Jesus promised to walk with us through every situation. When He is in control, He gets to write the ending. He gets to orchestrate the wildest series of events and ultimately make it all about Him. We never have to walk this road of life alone. Jesus promises to ‘never leave us or forsake us’.

Be encouraged. Cry out to Jesus and lean on Him! He wants to carry you through the hard stuff and give you courage to face each day.

Wanda Stutzman