Hope for the Holidays (especially when the holidays are hard)......

You may have seen the videos that Jimmy Kimmel shared on his late night show sent in by his viewers who have purposely given their kids a pathetic Christmas gift. The unsuspecting children rip open the packages in excitement only to realize that they received a rotten banana or a battery for Christmas! Their reactions range from innocent confusion to full temper tantrums. (Click here to watch)

As I was watching, I couldn't help but think of the similarities between those pranks and how so many of us feel as we approach this season. Holidays look pretty but we open them up to find disappointment and pain.  Sometimes traditions that we hold dear fall through. Sometimes we’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one and the empty spot they’ve left is too much to bear. The raw emotions of broken relationships are magnified during a time that is supposed to be filled with peace on earth. We get overburdened by the to-do lists, gift giving, and Pinterest crafts of Christmas that we end up not enjoying the season at all!

What are we to do? How can we have hope?

I could share with you the fact that Jesus is the hope in the midst of the hard circumstances of life and the holidays, but instead I want to share with you HOW Jesus is our hope for the holidays.

Adam and I have faced some circumstances in the last few years that have brought many tears and heartache especially during this special season. I don't feel comfortable broadcasting the issues across the internet, but I have learned several important things throughout the pain. 

First of all, we are all broken people. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells us about Adam and Eve. They were created as perfect human beings with a perfect relationship with God. It wasn't long though until they decided that they wanted to be just like or even better than God and they disobeyed God’s very first command. The rest is history! 
Every single one of us is born with that same sinful heart full of pride. Every one of us naturally puts ourselves at the top of the list! Because it’s full of broken people, our world is a broken world. I don't have to know you, to know that your life is full of difficult and sometimes horrible circumstances. I don't have to know who is reading this post to know that there are lives touched by cancer and disease, abuse, broken relationships, and financial problems. So obviously hope for this season can't come from our circumstances because they will constantly disappoint us!

Second, we can't fix that brokenness ourselves. As moms we love being the “fix it people” especially in our homes. There is always one more “10 Steps to a Better Life” blog article to read. Maybe if we could try a little harder in this area or that, we could finally be happy. The problem is that it is never enough. Because we're broken and sinful, we're always going to run up against the wall of failure. We will never measure up no matter how hard we try. Putting on the “I’ve got it all together” face only continues that lie to ourselves that we can somehow make it all better! So there’s no hope within ourselves either!

Third, God is holy. Holiness is the complete absence of sin or wrongdoing. In other words, God is the complete opposite of us. He has high, perfect standards for our lives. We are to show perfect love at all times and never do those loving deeds with a prideful heart. The 10 commandments are just the beginning of living a perfect life! AND because of His holiness, He punishes the imperfect with eternal death and separation from Him.  No hope there either, right?

By now, you're probably thinking I thought you were going to share with us the hope for the holidays. This isn't very encouraging!
Enter Luke 2:1-7:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

This familiar Christmas passage isn't just a nice story that makes a sweet nativity scene. The coming of Jesus as a baby is the answer and hope for all of that brokenness, sin, and hurt. You see as Jesus grew up, he never broke God’s law even once. He lived perfectly even in the broken circumstances around him. Then when He was 33 years old, he took that punishment of death from God which was meant for you and me. He died a horrific death on the cross not because of His imperfection, but ours.
The story doesn't stop there, though. That death didn’t defeat Him! He rose back to life again after three days! He conquered sin and paid for us the debt that we owe to God!

That, my sweet friends, is the hope of the holidays. In the midst of my tears, anger, and pain at the broken circumstances in our life, I can have hope. Complete healing and restoration may never come here on earth, but I have been reconciled with my heavenly Father because of what Christ did for me! 
When I fail once again at being the perfect mom or wife, I can be comforted in the fact that Jesus lived that perfect life on my behalf already. When there is absolutely no peace to be found in the circumstances around us, we rest in the one who IS peace! 

Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that we are exempt from pain, sickness, or trouble in our lives. Remember the “broken world”? It DOES mean though that we can have an unexplainable peace, joy, and hope in the middle of that difficulty.

Maybe you are left with questions after this post. How can Christ be my everyday hope? What does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus? Answering those questions would be a huge joy for me! I'd love to talk to you! Email me HERE. 
Maybe you know in your heart that Christ is your hope throughout the holiday season, but you have become caught up with the many disappointments and distractions that Christmas brings. I'd love to pray for you as you seek to look at the holidays through the lens of the Gospel. Shoot me an email HERE! I'd love to hear from you!