In the ★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★ we looked into what problems really are…How to avoid being overwhelmed, and more importantly how to overcome them, if you missed it, I highly recommend reading it in tandem with today’s “Reason for the Season” as it has everything to do with Hope.
Christmas can be a really challenging time for people, whether because of loneliness or as a result of losing a loved one or because of some hardship. For me, this Christmas has been a little difficult because of my mother’s condition. On December 23, 2010 we had an incredible day with my sister sightseeing in New York City, in which we hit all the hotspots…We saw the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, played the “Big Piano” in FAO Schwarz Toy Store and the kids saw Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store. It was an incredible day when all of a sudden the rug was pulled out from under us when we got the call that my mom was rushed to the hospital after having a massive stroke that almost killed her. Nothing prepares you for that call, and let me tell you the train ride back to New Jersey was the longest trip of my life. The next 5 days in the hospital was a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with extensive praying and tears as one doctor after another rendered a very bleak prognosis of her future. We went from “what do we do if she flat lines,” to “she may never speak or walk again”…It was a truly gut-wrenching time. 5 years later I am so thankful that not only did my mother survive; she is able to speak and walk and is a living miracle (as there was not an iota of hope that was given by the doctors.) The reason that this time is a little hard for me is that though my mom is doing well, her life, “the new normal” as they call it after a stroke is radically different. My mom thoroughly enjoyed Christmas and went overboard to make a magical time for everyone. Truly my love for the season is a direct result of all that she poured out for everyone else. As I think back to that time 5 years ago, I am so thankful that we were in town visiting for Christmas when that happened because I could not imagine getting that call and being over 1,500 miles away and I am thankful that God showed up in the way He did because though it was a horrific time, I experienced His Love, mercy and grace in a way I never had before!
Today’s “Reason for the Season” is one that is “a rose-colored glasses” everything is great, peaches and cream viewpoint but rather a call to action that regardless of the hardship, circumstance or doctor’s prognosis…we need to “Let Hope Arise!” I cannot think of a better image than this rose struggling to survive in the cold snow laden ground. If Christmas is a tough time for you, I pray that God would stir your heart as you read this post and well up in you the truth that there is Hope in every situation when you trust in Him! We talked on the first day about the Advent Wreath, in which there are 4 candles that are lit each week in the season of Advent and the fifth is lit on the last day.
The first purple candle that is lit on the Advent Wreath represents Hope. Advent Wreath. Day 2 of the 121 Advent Bible Plan says,
“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty. In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering. Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”
“Hope is essential to our faith!” If you are feeling alone, hopeless and at the end of your rope, I want to encourage you to change your perspective because God is a miracle working God! Like in my mother’s condition, He can breathe life back into your situation. I love what Marty Collier said,
“Hope is our assurance that God will finish all He has started.
Hope is our confidence that He will do all He has promised.”
The Bible is full of stories of God’s promises. One such story in the Old Testament that comes to mind, is that of Abram (later renamed Abraham,) who God chose to be the Father of the nation of Israel and promised him and his wife that though they were old, and she was barren, they would conceive and have a son (you can read the account in Genesis 17-18). Sound familiar? That is the same story from yesterday’s ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★ about Zechariah and Elizabeth. God loves stacking the odds up against Him, and all we need to do is believe. Romans 4:18-24 (ESV) describes Abraham’s belief…
“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,”
ABRAHAM BELIEVED AGAINST HOPE! Regardless of the situation we can have the same unwavering faith! Day 6 of the 121 Advent Bible Plan talked about Abraham’s hope…
“Abraham’s circumstances seemed humanly impossible. The promise of an heir was hopeless in the face of old age and barrenness. But when hope rests on God, who can and does, in fact, do the impossible (Matthew 19:26), the realm of possibility has no bounds. Our hope abounds in His ability, His goodness and His faithfulness toward us, His children. We have “full assurance of hope.”
“With God everything is possible!” You can read more on Abraham in (Romans 4:16-21 NLT). I share this because this is not some dusty old history lesson but is applicable to you and I today! Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT) says,
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”
God’s love for you and me will never end! He is merciful and faithful. Problems are going to happen. We live in a “Fallen World” and Satan is always looking to cause hardships in our life in to discourage us and turn us away from God. People are going to get sick and bad things will happen but when we persevere and look to God, we can overcome the adversity; and when we do, it will develop and change us, breaking the focus from ourselves and make us more like Jesus so that we can help others!! Again all we need to do is TRUST GOD in whatever we are going through today and let it transform us! I will close with this beautiful promise that was made in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)…
I am so thankful for this truth and for what God did in my mom and in my heart!! God has a plan for you and me, to give us a future and a hope, so LET YOUR HOPE ARISE in God today!
As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Elizabeth – The Voice of Blessing.” This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Elizabeth’s perspective.
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here… ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★