The Christmas season always seems to be overflowing with hope. Anything seems possible with a little Christmas magic.
Fat man in a red suit sliding down our chimney to bring us presents? Definitely possible during Christmas.
Flying reindeer? Absolutely.
The prospect of owning that overpriced toy I’ve been begging my parents for? 100%.
But have you ever thought about what it was like for the Israelites as they waited and hoped for the promised Messiah?
You can imagine that every time a child was born there was the ever-so-faint hope that maybe this child would be the Messiah one day! Maybe this child would be the one to liberate their nation! And with each generation the hope grew more desperate and seemed more improbable.
As a nation they had been in captivity or under the rule of another nation for more than 600 years (for context the United States is only 276 years old). That means that over 20 generations of Israelites waited for freedom and salvation, holding on to nothing more than the prophecies of the coming Messiah and the history of God’s faithfulness to them.
And with each generation the hope grew more desperate and seemed more improbable.
As a Massachusetts transplant living in southwestern Virginia, I have done my share of driving up and down the east coast. In my bachelor days I liked to drive through the night to avoid traffic in the major cities and the hardest part of the trip was usually between 3 AM and 5 AM.
Early in the trip, caffeine and my road trip playlists made me feel close to invincible when it came to my need for sleep. But somewhere around 3 AM, the caffeine would stop working and the playlists would lose their novelty. In the middle of the night, I95 is usually empty so my ‘95 Toyota Camry was often the only thing on the road, and I would sit there in my car staring at the dotted lines in front of me begging my eyes to stay open.
I knew if I could just stay awake until the sunrise, if I could just make it to daylight, I would be ok.
Sometimes I would drive on the rumble strip to jolt myself awake for a little longer.
I would roll the windows down and yell at the top of my lungs but that would just make me feel crazy and tired.
I would count the dotted lines on the road to distract myself.
Even though I knew that the morning would come, it was so hard to believe it really would in those moments. If I only I could snap my fingers and make the sun appear…
But then sometime around 5 AM, a faint glow would appear on the horizon. It was so small that it was easy to miss but it was there, and it was all I needed at that moment. Suddenly I was infused with energy… the sun was really coming! My eyelids started to feel a little lighter as I began to smile.
There is something about that glow that changes things. In the darkness, the morning could not feel further away, but in an instant the sky begins to change, and anything is possible.
I have often thought that this is how Jesus came into the world. The Israelites had been waiting in the darkness and had begun to lose hope. They were waiting for the Light of the World to come and scatter the darkness with one brilliant flash. Instead, Jesus came as a glow on the horizon… a baby born in a non-descript shack where the animals were.
He was easy to miss at first… but for those who saw Him and believed, everything changed.
Anything was possible.
It is easy to talk about the hope of salvation on this side Jesus’ resurrection. We know who Jesus is and what He did, but we often forget how hard it must have been for the Israelites to hold on to hope in the darkness before Jesus came.
Hope is a great buzzword and fits nicely into our songs and on our t-shirts, but it is a lot harder to walk in hope before the sky begins to change.
Maybe you are struggling to walk in the hope of a promise that God has given you.
Let this Christmas season be a reminder that the morning is coming. He will fulfill His promises!
Remember, hope in a supernatural promise must be sustained by a supernatural God.
In Romans 15:13, Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
The Israelites had the prophecies of the Messiah, we have the Holy Spirit who dwells with every believer.
If you find yourself waiting for the light of morning to come, prioritize your time with the Holy Spirit, remind yourself of the promises of God in the Bible, and surround yourself with friends who will help you walk in hope (co-pilots are one of the best ways to stay awake on a road trip).