The Hope of Eternity

Are you going through something difficult this Christmas season?  Has 2015 been a hard year for you?

Believe it or not … that is what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is for people who are going through “hard”.

We mistakenly believe that Christmas is about reindeer that dance … gently frosted windowpanes … with a roasted chestnut or two thrown in.

But those cultural niceties don’t begin to describe the depth and the wonder of this miraculous season.

Christmas is for people who have experienced disappointment … and despair … and turmoil.

Jesus came for your “hard”.

Elizabeth and Zacharias lived a “hard” life of dashed hopes and dreams.  Although married for decades, they had never held a newborn baby in their arms.

There had been no 3 a.m. feedings for this elderly couple … no dirty diapers … and no sweet baby chortles.  There had only been month after month … year after year … of “hard”.

Their life had not turned out the way that they had hoped … can you relate to the all-consuming disappointment of Elizabeth and Zacharias?

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard and your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son,” – Luke 1:13

Could it be true?

Was it even possible after decades of marriage that they would conceive and bear a son? 

Would Elizabeth’s elderly frame be able to withstand 9 months of pregnancy and then the pain of giving birth? 

God, are You really this good?!

It is true:  God absolutely hears your prayers.  He is listening intently to your requests and loves it when a believer comes to Him boldly and unashamedly. 

Christmas is a time of expectation! We should all expect heaven’s entrance into our dusty, dirty worlds.  Christmas is a time that reminds us that miracles really do happen, prayers are actually answered and that heaven is just one response away.

You know … the shepherds lived a hard life …

Shepherds were dirty, uneducated men with grime under their fingernails and the sludge of life in their brains. 

There were a group of these shepherds one night, huddled around a fire in the inky, black of night.  These muddy specimens of humanity were probably cold and shivering while trying to stay awake. 

Their only responsibility in life was to keep track of a herd of dumb sheep that were restless, disobedient and lice-infested.  Shepherds were a hopeless crew of men ... with nothing to look forward to knowing that nothing about their lives would ever change. 

Life can become quickly pointless if you are a man who lives with sheep drool on his clothes and sheep dung between his toes.

There was a night that seemed no different from thousands of other dark, cold lonely nights for this woebegone band of brothers. 

When the night couldn’t get any blacker and the sheep couldn’t get any more cantankerous, suddenly, in an instant of time, something so miraculous happened that life would never again be the same for them … or for you and me.

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terribly frightened.” - Luke 1:9

Unexpectedly, heaven exploded into their small, cold and dark world. 

The song of the angels burst forth into the war zone of earth and proclaimed the joy of heaven into the hopeless and meaningless existence of the shepherds. 

Stars were falling and bursting in rare and glorious colors while the heavens opened and a majestic angel choir began to sing a mighty symphony that can still be heard today!

Your heart can become an explosion of joy … in spite of your “hard” because of the birth of a Baby over 2,000 years ago. 

You can receive joy because of Jesus ... you can walk in peace because of this Baby.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 1:10 & 11

The first word that the angels used to describe the birth of Jesus Christ was the word “joy” ... and it should be the first word used to describe you as well! 

The song of the angels was never meant to be heard only by a solitary group of shepherds. 

When the angels sang that night, they were singing to those of you with the drool of life upon your heart and the dung of circumstances in your soul.

Life is hard … but the Hope of eternity has arrived because of Christmas!

Do you know whom else Christmas was hard for?  It was hard for Joseph and Mary and for their families.

Mary was pregnant and yet not married.  Her unbelievable story was that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Do you think that her parents believed her?  Can you imagine the disappointment of her mother?  Or the anger of her father?

Joseph’s intended had also told him the outrageous news that she was with child.  We know that Joseph did not initially believe Mary because the Scripture says that Joseph decided to put her away privately.

Can you imagine Joseph’s despair?  Or the embarrassment that his parents were forced to walk through?

Just because your life is “hard” this Christmas season is not a reason to ignore the grand celebration of ages past.  Just because you are dealing with emotional pain or ravaging disappointment is not an excuse to ignore the Christ Child’s entrance into your heart and into your home. 

Just because you have dealt with undeserved circumstances does not mean that you should turn into Scrooge or the Grinch during these joyful days of December.

Jesus came into your “hard” and nothing will ever be the same again!  God, the Father, sent the Baby Jesus to the shepherds … to Elizabeth and Zacharias … and to Mary and Joseph … and the celebration ever since has been enormous and eternal!

Rather than focusing on your pain and your difficult circumstances this year choose to set your gaze firmly on the Baby in the manger.  He came to deliver joy … to bring peace … and to give hope to your particular “hard” corner of the world.

His presence changes everything for you and for me!  His birthday should be celebrated with joy … with song … with reverence … and with praise!

Joy truly has come to your world and nothing will ever be the same again!

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