This can be a difficult time for some folks. Where I volunteer I have folks coming in asking for help in many different ways. We ask what’s going on in their life so we know how to help them. I have heard so many heartbreaking stories. Recently, I had an elderly mother come in to tell me she had two sons, one was an alcoholic and one was a drug addict; both raised in the church. Another elderly woman shared she had been given her granddaughter to raise from birth. CPS came in and took the granddaughter and gave her to this woman to raise. She just recently went to pick up another grandchild to raise. I have heard of dysfunctional families, men who have left their wives or girlfriends and women who have left abusive relationships. I question some of these stories because they are so farfetched, but for those who are real my heart breaks.
I have friends who are going through some difficult times with difficult decisions to make. I listen to the news and there is one tragedy after another. Three men yesterday lost their lives in a fire; three fathers will not be home for the holidays. These are all sad stories.
As I was reflecting on all of this I began to wonder is there hope for a better future for these folks? Is there someone who can turn their lives around and give them hope? Who will be there as they grieve?
I remembered something else just as quick. I am involved in a prayer group that meets on Wednesdays. We take prayer requests and pray for as long as God leads us to pray. Then we dismiss and pray for all these folks during the following week. We have been privileged to receive follow ups on some of these prayer requests and it is truly amazing what God has done in the lives of some of these folks. In some cases health issues have been resolved in other cases health issues may not be resolved, but they have received hope; lives have been extended; situations resolved and prayers have been answered. As I think about the place I volunteer I remember one lady coming in months ago asking for prayer for her son; she recently came back and thanked me for my prayer, because the relationship that was broken was now in the healing process. I prayed for one young woman who needed a job. That next week she was hired. Another young woman came in asking for help I prayed she would soon find a job that afternoon she had employment. God is in the business of answering prayers and giving hope to those who earnestly ask for it and believe in it.
The women in the prayer group and I do not have magical powers; we can’t make things happen. We pray and ask God to move and He moves as He chooses. The ones I have prayed with are the ones that pray along with me and they believe it can and will happen by the grace of God. These people have a strong faith in God and they know God can make things happen. I am reminded of Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have had people leave the office saying, “You have lifted my spirits and given me new hope.” It’s not me who has lifted their spirits or given them new hope it is Jesus Christ through my prayers. This Christmas we can receive hope in that bundle of joy that is given to us on Christmas Day. We can have hope in Him because He tells us to bring all our worries to Him, all of those things that concern Him and leave them with Him. All He asks from us is to trust in Him and believe. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
God brought this new life into the world so we could have hope. When we accept God, believe in Him and receive Him as our Savior He gives us new life and in that new life we can receive hope of better things to come through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body by faith in the Son of God who love me and gave Himself for me.”
Hope is not found in playing the lottery hoping someday we might win, hope is not found in alcohol or drugs hoping when we come back around our situation will be changed. Hope is not found in having a perfect, family (if there is any) and hope cannot be placed in material things that will eventually be worn out or destroyed. Hope can only be found in Jesus Christ who already has given us everything we need to succeed in our present circumstances. No matter our circumstances we can turn to God and receive hope and love, and grace. No one has gone farther than God’s grace can reach. God is reaching down here at Christmas and giving us His greatest gift…a new life; a new life in a babe that is offering us a new life in Him. We just need to accept this new life, believe in Him and trust in Him during the good and the bad.
Do you need hope this Christmas? You can find hope in a manger lying in a crib. The greatest gift you can offer Him is yourself; not your money, not your material things, He just wants you. Are you ready to have new life? Are you ready for some hope? Then give yourself to Him this Season and understand the reason for the season.
Dear God: Sometimes it can be difficult to hear the stories and see the tears flow, but then I am reminded of that one thing you often give us the most…the gift of hope. I see answered prayers, I see lives changed and I am thankful that You have chosen me to be Your Instrument. I am not a miracle worker nor do I answer prayers, I know it is You who works through me and the prayer team and for that I am humbled and grateful. Be with those who need hope right now; those going through difficult times and those grieving the loss of life, or those having to make tough decisions. Give them hope and surround them with Your love and peace. Amen.