A Season of Hope

District Fellowship News

November, December 2009

lIt will soon be time to celebrate Christmas again, that season of cheer, gift giving, love and peace. Of course that may not describe your feelings at Christmas. For many, there is a dread that comes thinking about a season where others are going to be so happy, where family expectations are high, where friends are supposed to get together, where we spend more than we have to try to make others feel good. Holiday time is a time where rates of depression escalate, and the pressures seem to grow and grow until we are ready to explode. All because of a holiday...a celebration of one of the greatest events that has occurred in the history of mankind. Sadly, the truth is that we have forgotten much of the real reason for this celebration. The advent of Christ to the world should be a wondrous blessing to us, and yet there are many who find no hope, no peace during this time of year. Let’s take a moment to look back at the origin of this event. Is it possible even then that the arrival of God’s son could have been a potential cause of despair for some?

An unmarried engaged woman receives the news that she is pregnant, and the baby is not her fiancé’s. She is from a religious family, there is really no option to end the pregnancy even if she wanted. To make matters worse, adultery was taken very seriously in her society. And the explanation she could give, the miraculous story she had to tell was going to seem so fantastic that likely no one would believe her. An angel had visited her to tell her that through the power of the Most High God she had been blessed with the Son of God in her womb. Imagine telling your family that tale!

It certainly would seem that this could be a troubling set of circumstances for this young woman, that despair could overwhelm her, and yet listen to the words of her heart, “Oh how I praise the Lord, how I rejoice in God my Savior! For He took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For He , the Mighty One, is holy, and He has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him.” Throughout this story, we see how God shows Himself to be faithful to her, how He provides, and how He protects.

There was her fiancé, Joseph, who knowing he was not the father of this baby was going to release her from the pledge she had made to him. Before he could do that, God sent an angel to let him know that his betrothed had not been unfaithful. Joseph became convinced that this child really was the Son of God. The trouble didn’t end there however. Gloom and doubt could have set in when they traveled to Bethlehem, she began labor, and they could find no place to stay except a stable. Having a baby in a barn is bad enough, but this was the Son of God who, the angel had told her, would reign over Israel. Was it time to despair yet? Maybe just a little doubt would be appropriate. Then wonders happened again. The star appeared, the angels announced, and the shepherds came to her proclaiming the story of peace on earth, good will to men. Later, Wise Men arrived with gifts fit for a king. As the days progressed, she was amazed by the testimonies of Simeon and Anna. Each event a reminder of the great plan involving her son that each of us have a part in. Reminders that she was not forgotten, her son was not forgotten, they were in God’s hands.

Scripture says, “Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.” So the question becomes, what is it you are thinking about often in your time of despair, gloom, or trial? Is it about the amazing love of the Creator God who came among us to live, chose to die for us, and now lives again as an example of what we have been offered, life eternal? Are you thinking of where God has brought you from, and how he cares about you now? How even in the darkest situation He walks with you, stands near you, cools your fevered brow, eases your anguish? As we contemplate the wonderful truth that God became man and dwelt among us, as we celebrate the wondrous circumstances of his birth, recognize the fact that He has noticed you, and He has done many things for you. Treasure those facts in your heart. This season does not have to be a time of despair in your life or the lives of those around you, it is a season of hope.