“The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.”
O Little Town of Bethlehem
When we say, “I hope so” we do not usually mean that same thing as the New Testament does. We may be hoping for a white Christmas, even though the weatherman is predicting “sunny and cold with occasional showers.” This is not hope but wishful thinking.
What then is hope? Imagine a child catching a glimpse of his father sneaking something into the house - something that is difficult to carry and has two big wheels. If later you were to ask the child, “What are you hoping for this Christmas,” he would reply with a big grin, “I am hoping for a new bicycle!” That is hope in the biblical sense. It is being sure that you will receive something you don’t yet have. Someone who “hopes all things,” is not a glass-half full kind of person who is always hoping for the best, but believes the promises of God and is waiting for them to be fulfilled - no matter what.
Hope becomes the lens through which you view everything. Hope describes an underlying confidence that God will be with us and bless us just as He has promised, even when life is at its worst. Christian hope allows us to look at difficult experiences and hard times and call them what they are, but the coming promises of God shape our present experience. As Paul writes, we are “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). If the end is heaven, then the end shapes the means.
The incarnation, the birth of the Christ-child, is the ultimate “yes” to the promises of God. First, because it means that God has kept his oldest promise, recorded in Genesis 3:15. God would make enemies of the offspring of Eve and the serpent and that the serpent would strike his heel but the serpent’s head would be crushed. At a cost, the Son would defeat the serpent. The incarnation reveals not only the longest standing promise, but also the costliest. Keeping the promise would mean the Son would have to suffer and die so that forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life could be offered. Romans 8:32 says that “He who did not spare his Son but gave him up for us all.” Paul draws the logical conclusion; since this is the case, we can be sure God will withhold nothing from us that is for our ultimate good.
We can have hope because God kept his biggest, oldest, and costliest promises when love came down at Christmas.
What difference will the certain hope of heaven, and a God who will give us all we need, change how you live and who you love this week?
(excerpt from Sinclair B. Ferguson’s Love Came Down At Christmas)