Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pointing Toward Hope

This time of year is filled with highs and lows. Folks rushing around with joy, feeling the rush that shopping brings as they find their treasures. Christmas pageants and music concerts, plays and movies all celebrate the season. There's the warmth you feel sitting by the fire, gazing at a Christmas tree covered in lights. Perhaps you hold a mug of hot tea in your hands, and a favorite novel is your reward for a long work day.

But there are signs of another experience this season. Signs of people struggling. The recent economic climate has led to our seeing more homeless people as we drive through busy streets. They hold signs and try to hope in the kindness of strangers. I've heard the suicide rate goes up at Christmas time. People running out of hope in the midst of what should be a hopeful season.

So, what can we do?

First, hang onto our own hope. Christmas isn't about gifts--either giving or getting, really. Christmas is commemorated that way, but it's truly about Jesus, the Son of God coming to earth as a baby to bring HOPE. As if He's saying to the poor and downtrodden, "Look to Me. I came to give you hope." He would say to the hopeless who contemplate giving up on life, "I am the way, the truth and the life. Come and let me give you hope."

When you smile at people, you offer them hope. When you lend a helping hand, you offer hope. When you serve others, putting others first, you offer them hope.

The Psalmist said, "I would have fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (see Psalm 27:13) He was talking about hope. Without hope, people give up.

So, first, we hang onto our own hope, keeping it refreshed through recent time with God. Then, second, we share that hope with others. Reach out. Help.

Point toward hope.

Now may the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:13)

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