A lady told her husband that she had a dream that he had bought her a diamond necklace for Christmas! The husband responded positively to her dream by bringing her a beautifully wrapped gift. As she eagerly tore open the wrapping to see her diamond necklace, all she found was a little book. It was titled, ‘How to interpret your dreams’!
We all like giving and getting gifts for Christmas. But one of the greatest gifts we can receive at Christmas is Hope
Christmas is a difficult period for a lot of people, for as they look back over the year, they may see many dreams that have not been fulfilled. The present too, may be discouraging, with shortages of finances & food & maybe other difficulties like being laid off or maybe even a death in the family. It is well known that a lot of people go through depression in December & some even commit suicide. Country legend Merle Haggard sang, ‘If we make it through December, everything is gonna be alright I know’. The song speaks about a father who has just lost his job at the factory & wondering how he can make Christmas special for his little daughter.
The Christmas story is one of hope. With Jesus’ birth came hope. Connected with the birth of Christ is a woman who can encourage us to find hope at Christmas. Her name is Anna. Her story is found in Luke 2:36-38. She waited a long time to see what she hoped for – God’s Son.
She was a prophetess – she proclaimed God’s message.
A Bible prophet was one who proclaimed God’s message. Sometimes it was a message given before an event occurred. Maybe Anna had been proclaiming about the coming of Jesus long before He arrived. She had a message of hope to all who would listen. Finally, she held her hope when she held baby Jesus.
She was old – she had evidenced her faith.
She was well over 100 years old (7 yrs of marriage + 84 years a widow = 91 years. No one knows how old she was when she got married). A person who has been faithful to God for many, many years gives younger followers hope.
She was a widow – she had endured heartache and loss.
She had been married for only 7 years. Life had been unkind to her yet she remained hopeful. Her bad circumstances did not lead her to do bad things.
She never left the Temple – she was faithful.
After the death of her husband she used her time and energy for the Lord. Even though the Temple ceremonies and personnel were not what they should have been, she was faithful to what she had. She did not leave. She was serving God, not man. God was faithful to her – she would be faithful to God.
She served God with fasting and prayer – she was devoted to God.
Her service was not just outward activities. She had conversations with God. She went without so she could enjoy a closer communion with God. Whatever it took, she would have a close relationship with God.
Prayer is the bridge to hope.
Hope isn’t an attitude that we convince ourselves. Hope isn’t positive self-talk that everything will be okay. True hope is a connection with God. Through prayer we can gain an insight and peace that others will never know. God told Jeremiah, “Call upon me, and I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”
You may be facing a hopeless situation or relationship. There may be no earthly way anything more can be done. But when you pray, you are communicating with all-powerful God who can do anything. Prayer is all powerful. When you pray, there is still hope.
Patience is the art of hope.
But what do you do when what you hope for doesn’t happen. You wait. Specifically you wait on God. You can’t read the story of Anna without recognizing how old she is. That’s what makes the story so amazing. She waited so long for what she hoped for.
Hope is proven by our patience. The more hope you have in the future the more you will endure the trials of the present. If our hope is sure, we can get through anything.
A lesson we learn from Anna is to not let age or any other barrier prevent you from making a significant contribution to God’s kingdom. One of the aspects of the Christmas story is that God used a variety of people – young and old, rich and poor, men and women. Anna challenges all of us to stop making excuses that limit our effectiveness and start making a difference with the opportunities and resources we do have.
Proclaim hope to the hopeless.
Anna spoke of Jesus “to all that looked for redemption.” Everybody wants to hope. They are looking for something to believe in. In a recent USA Today article by Ben Affleck who plays Batman in the new movie, Justice Leage, said, “Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?” The world is looking for a Savior. We need to boldly proclaim Him.
Will you live in hope this Christmas? Will you look forward to the future God has promised you? Will you pray, have patience, and proclaim hope to others?
Or you can read more Gifts of Christmas.