Christmas Hope

Photo Credit: Evelyn Chin via Unsplash

Christmas. The word alone evokes a myriad of emotions. Some people love it, others only tolerate it. Many people are stressed through it all. No matter how you may feel you have to acknowledge that it is a magical time of the year.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. Then it became the hardest time of the year. Only recently have I feel better about that. Another writer Annie Downs said clearly what I struggled to say.  She said, “But something happens during the holiday season —  when my singleness just feels. IT FEELS. It’s palpable in December moments in ways it never shows in April. ”  While all that is true. There is a beauty that I can’t deny about Christmas.  The world is transformed. My heart loves to ponder the characters in the Christmas story.  What did they think? How did they feel?

Each year God reveals a new aspect of the story.  Mary has long been a source for inspiration as I considered her role.  Today though I want to consider the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias. Scripture tells us that they were both righteous before God walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.  (vs. 6)

Sometimes we can think that meant life was easy for them. Yet they were in a place of broken dreams. They wanted a child. Only time passed on and it never happened. I imagine that they cried, prayed and hoped. Then eventually resigning themselves to the fact that it was never going to happen. All their dreams felt like they were for nothing.

I imagine Elizabeth wondered, why God did you ever give me this desire to be pregnant? Why did you give me this longing to carry a child of my own? Why do I long to be a mother if you knew it would never happen?  Elizabeth and Zacharias went about life as if nothing was wrong. But there was a hidden hurt in their hearts.

Zacharias gets his once in a lifetime chance to go in the temple to burn incense. (Luke 1:8-12) Then he receives an Angelic visit.  Gabriel says this dream of yours will happen. Elizabeth will bear a son. Zacharias struggles to believe the promise and is rendered silent. I can only imagine he comes out in fear and wonder.

Suddenly life has been shaken upside down and a glimmer of hope begins to sprout in the long dead places. Being struck silent Zacharias has time to think and ponder. His hopes and dreams warring with reality.  Elizabeth finally pregnant is ecstatic beyond words.  She no longer needs to feel ashamed. She can’t help but have a heart overflowing with wonder and gratitude for what the Lord has done. It’s almost too good to be true.

From the ashes of broken dreams came a divine intervention. Whispers of promise that bring the greatest joy that she has ever known.  God saw her heart. God saw her and He looked upon her favorably and loved her enough to step into her mess and change it.

Christmas is a time of hope. A time of God speaking life into long dead places. A time where Christ comes to bring change to how things have always been.  It may not always feel easy. It may not look anything as we expect. Christ is present, God is near and there is potential for new life and miracles everywhere you look.

God majors in speaking life to those long dead places in our lives. He breathes on them with a promise that changes everything.  What long dead areas in your life can God speak to this year?

Luke 1:5-25, 1:39-45, 1:57-58

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