The Season of Hope
December 02, 2017
By Phil Bachman, Pastor/ Life Coach, Meadows Communities
For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
If we were to choose one word to describe the essence of the Christmas season, what would it be? Would it be “love?” It certainly could be, for it was because of the love of God that He sent His only begotten Son to be born into this world. Would it be “peace?” It certainly could be, for the baby Jesus is the Prince of Peace, who, by His sacrifice on the cross, secured peace with God for everyone who would repent of sin and believe in Him. Would the best word to describe Christmas be “joy?” It certainly could be because if we know the Prince of Peace personally, joy is at the heart of our experience. Or, is the best word to describe Christmas “hope?” It certainly could be, and it is the one I have been thinking about the most the past several months. In recent months, I have heard more than a few people expressing discouragement about the difficult times in which we live. Hope is what is needed and, thankfully, the Bible is full of messages of hope in times of difficulty — and many of these messages point to the Christmas story, the fact of Jesus’ birth.
Allow me to take you back 2,600 years during the time of the prophet Jeremiah. Times were difficult, to say the least, as the God’s people faced 70 years of exile in Babylon for their sinful ways. But God gave them hope when He told Jeremiah to write, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). That hope included being restored to their homeland Jerusalem, but it would also include a complete restoration that is yet to be realized during the millennial reign of Christ. “They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,” God promises in Jeremiah 31:12. A wonderful hope, indeed, but first, more difficulty…
Later in chapter 31, in verse 15 we read, “Thus says the Lord, ‘a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’” This prophecy was fulfilled shortly after Jesus’ birth when King Herod, upon being tricked by the Magi, became enraged and ordered that every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem and its vicinity be killed. Again, in the midst of difficulty, there was hope — for the Savior had been born and was spared from Herod’s slaughter by the power of God the Father. A wonderful hope, indeed, but yet more difficulty was to come…
The Baby would grow into adulthood and would be hated by His fellow Jews and be killed by Roman soldiers. But, praise God, there was hope! On the third day, He arose from the grave, conquering death, and offering new and eternal life to all who would believe on His name! The Apostle Paul described it this way to the Christians in Colossae: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27b).
Is there more difficulty yet to come for those of us who believe? Absolutely — but let us be reminded yet again this Christmas season and into the New Year that the very message and truth of this season is hope.
Meadows offers a full-range of senior living options — independent living, Independent Living—Plus!, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, respite care, and Achieve! Wellness and Rehab Therapy — with two locations: Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community in Chenoa and Meadows at Mercy Creek in Normal. To learn more about senior living options at Meadows, visit www.meadowscommunities.org or call 309-268-1501.
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