Our current cultural story is one of darkness and despair. Trump and Rocket Man and North Korea, Brexit negotiations, Trump pouring a can of petrol on Jerusalem, Putin flexing his muscles, Trump and sexual harassment. Its gloom gloom gloom. One neighbour of ours put this sign on his gate, expressing the gloom of many people today. They want to know, “Is there hope?”
Hope is essential. Its like oxygen to the soul, and when you don’t have it life isn’t worth getting up for in the morning. We all need genuine hope — not just optimism. Optimism is psychological. It’s based on the way you think. Hope is theological. It’s based on who God is and his relationship with you.
Optimism is positive thinking. Hope is passionate trusting.
The story God tells us is that: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2).
At the heart of the Christmas experience is seeing the light, getting an insight in what was happening in that stable in Bethlehem, having it dawn on you that the invisible God has put skin on, come down into our world and give us a whole new way of seeing life and doing life.
Three ‘wise men’ from Persia were intrigued by the way the Bible foretold of a light coming, of a son being born to us, and travelled miles to see for themselves
But after 33 years the religious people of the day tried to extinguish this light, because when the light is switched on it shows up all the dark places of our lives, the things we are ashamed of.
They killed Jesus Christ, not realising that it was also foretold in the Bible this would happen. That he would be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned, and killed to bear our sins.
But He was God, with skin on, and you can’t kill God. After three days He came alive again, like one of those relighting candles on children’s birthday cakes. Hope trusts that because of this incredible rising from the grave, life now has a new dimension, purpose, the worst it might throw at us won’t overwhelm us. Looking to him, asking him to do life with us, transforms our darkness. Its not optimism, its rock solid HOPE.
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