The other day, when the ads came out for the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy that takes place every year, Jennifer had our boys look them over and circle items they felt they might want for Christmas. They circled things like toys, video games, DVDs and books. Jack circled an advertisement for bags of Cheetos and Doritos (When Jennifer laughingly asked him what kind of Doritos he wanted, the kind in the blue bag or the kind in the red bag, he responded enthusiastically, "Both!"). We carefully explained to our boys that they shouldn't expect to receive everything they circled. "Family members will choose from your lists and give as they are able, but it's unlikely that you'll get everything you're asking for."
You could tell, though, they were hopeful.
Hope, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is "the emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life." It's expecting the best, sometimes in spite of reality, in spite of the obvious.
Biblical hope is kind of like that. It's hope against all odds, against all possibilities, against anything that make sense in our world today. There's no question that, because of sin, our world is broken. It's twisted beyond repair. But biblical hope argues that, no matter how broken and twisted this world gets, it will one day be recreated. No matter how empty and lifeless a body is, it can one day be raised. And no matter how hardened and calloused a soul is, it can one day be redeemed.
That's biblical hope.
The difference, though, between biblical hope and the kind of hope my guys had when it came to their Christmas lists, is that biblical hope carries with it a guarantee. Biblical hope is more than wishful thinking; it's more than an arbitrary emotional state. Biblical hope is assurance. It's something to look forward to. It's anticipation.
And it's all of these things because of Christmas.
Because Christmas was that down payment. John 1:14 tells us, "The Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us…." God entered this broken and twisted world and went about fixing it. He preached love, He healed sickness and disease, He raised the dead, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of this world, and then He conquered death through His own Resurrection. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)."
And because God did these things, we now have hope. Not arbitrary hope. Not wishful thinking, but real, tangible, life-giving hope. Because God did these things, we now have something to look forward to. We now know that this life is not all there is. There is something, Someone, to live for.
My prayer is that, this Christmas, you are walking in that hope. I pray that your life is not empty and pointless. I pray that you have a reason for waking up in the morning, and I pray that that reason is not in something that can easily be lost. Hope cannot be lost, because real hope is not founded on anything that can be lost. It's founded on the Almighty God who provides it and who will not let you down or abandon you. It's founded on Jesus, who gives us reason to wish one another this time of year, as I wish you today...