Hope can be the difference between life and death.

During World War II, six pilots took off from an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic to scout some enemy submarines. While they were gone, the captain of the carrier was forced to issue a blackout alarm. The ship went totally dark. When the pilots tried to return, they could not find the ship. They radioed, “Give us some light, we’re coming home.” The ship’s radio operator replied, “Order: blackout. I cannot give you light.” In turn, each pilot desperately radioed the same message: “Just give me some light and I’ll make it.” Each time, the operator had to radio back, “No light—blackout!” Because there was no light on that ship, six young pilots went to their graves in the icy North Atlantic.

We live in a dark world that desperately needs light. The birth of Jesus Christ, who is God’s salvation, brought the light that offers hope to a world of despair.

The dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” It means we want something to happen or be true and think it might happen or be true. One of the synonyms of hope is wish. At Christmas, many children make a wish list. Even adults have a list.

Hope can mean so much to someone going through a difficult time. It can mean the difference between hanging on or giving up. It can mean a tiny smile in the face of a devastating diagnosis.

However, the Bible’s usage of hope is stronger. Bible hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. It is similar to faith. The difference is that faith is now. Hope is future. Our faith trusts God for today. Our hope trusts God for tomorrow.

We find a Christmas story about hope. In Matthew 2:1-12, the wise men followed a star to discover Jesus.

When we read about the experience of the wise men, we discover three principles about hope.

1- Hope gives courage.

The hope of the wise men finding Jesus gave them courage to start out, speak up, and move on. The most difficult step to take is often the first step. These men had courage to take the first step to find Jesus. They also had courage to speak to a very fearful man, Herod, and ask some potentially dangerous questions. They had courage to continue their journey, in spite of danger, until they found what they were looking for.

Let Jesus give you the same courage this Christmas.

2 – Hope gives guidance.

The hope from the star in the sky gave the wise men guidance as God led them step by step. Even the seemingly absence of guidance, was God’s way of guiding them to Herod and the priests to inform them of the birth of King Jesus. Whether it was a star or a dream, God honored their hope and guided their steps.

Let Jesus give you the same guidance this Christmas.

3 – Hope gives endurance.

These wise men went through a lot of struggles to find Jesus. The never quit in their search for Jesus.

Let Jesus give you similar endurance this Christmas.

The wise men finally found what they were looking for – Jesus. They were filled with joy and gave gifts to express their worship.

I don’t know what you are hoping for this Christmas. But whatever it is, you will find it in Jesus. Jesus is the true answer for the searching of your soul.

“…and you shall seek me and find me when you shall search for me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

It was Christmas 1992, 27 years ago. I was 33 years old and it was my first Christmas without my dad. He had died of cancer in July. He was 54 years old. The whole family was at my mom’s house. But it was an odd feeling. My dad was a quiet man, never the life of a party. But his absence was deafening. We ate, exchanged gifts, and we just sat around the living room. It was so crowded that many were on the floor. And then I noticed… my dad’s chair was empty. Even though we ran out of room, unconsciously nobody sat in his chair. And nobody said anything about it. It wasn’t until the trip home that I mentioned it to Judy. It was a tough Christmas, but because of his faith in Jesus we have hope that we will see him again.

Christmas can bring despair. Years of celebration can come to a screeching halt when you realize that it will never be the same. But the hope of Jesus can make your Christmas better. Hope can give you courage when you feel afraid. Hope can give you guidance when you don’t know which way to turn. Hope can give you endurance when you’d like to quit. Jesus is the hope of Christmas. When you have Jesus this Christmas, you have everything – for today and for forever.