Is hope just a cop-out?
I never really liked the sound of the word.
It used to annoy me.
Who cares for naive optimism and wishful thinking when the world (your world?) is going to hell in a handbasket? “Hope” used to sound like a cop-out to me; a fanciful wish upon a hypothetical star that may or may not pan out.
But all that changed when I began to understand the story of Christmas – the story of Jesus and why he was born.
One of the Bible books that tells the Christmas story, the book of Matthew, captures it perfectly when it quotes an old prophecy about Jesus. It says: “In His name the nations will put their hope.” (12:21)
It’s an odd thing to say. What’s the connection? Why exactly can we put our hope in Jesus?
The answer may be simpler than you think.
See, the Bible tells us that we were all created for a purpose: to be in relationship with God. It’s the only thing that gives life meaning in the end. You can have it all – the career, the bling, the girls (or boys), the toys – but if you don’t have that connection with The One who created you, it’s all utterly pointless – it all rings hollow (been there before, have you?).
In the end, our desire to live life our own way – away from God – leaves us in a hopeless position. Hopeless, because there’s no way for us to fix things ourselves. The Bible puts it this way: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Whether you know it or not, you’re in a hopeless situation. You are hopelessly lost without God. And there is nothing you can do yourself to change that.
Enter Jesus. The one who died for our wrongdoing, restoring our relationship with God.
And that’s why Christmas changes everything – because it celebrates the day that hope became more than an abstract idea. Christmas is about the moment when hope became a person – a real flesh-and-blood person who changed everything. That’s who Jesus is: hope personified.
That’s why Christmas is about real hope. Not the meaningless I-sure-do-hope-things-are-gonna-turn-out-okay kind. But the unshakeable kind. The kind that, despite the troubles and realities of this world, knows that this is not the end of the story. The kind that understands how a little baby boy born about 2 000 years ago holds the key to restoring our relationship with God.
That kind of hope is about more than “the feels”. It’s about more than just shooting off a prayer that everything will be okay somehow. It’s about more than wishing on a star.
It’s about knowing that all of this – the pain, the suffering, the – finds its meaning in who Jesus is and what He has done to bring us back to God.
This messed up world is not where the story ends. My hope is in Jesus. And yours can be too if you simply choose to follow Him.