The Unbelievable Hope of Christmas
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Growing up, my favorite Christmas tradition was displaying the nativity scene. My mom had several, and every year, I insisted on setting up each one. Now I do the same thing in my home. As I set up my nativity scenes around this holiday season, I held a wooden carving of baby Jesus in my hands and thought of John 1:14,
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (NKJV).
I have always been amazed by the idea of our Savior as a child with tiny fingers, a gummy smile, and baby-soft, peach fuzz skin. The King of kings, came to us as a child, born to a teenage mother and a carpenter father. His family was rejected at the inn. His first bed was a feeding trough. His first roommate was likely a donkey. As cute as all the barnyard animals look in the nativity scene set up under my tree, I realize now how dirty the manger likely was and how bad it probably smelled.
This is how Jesus came to us. He did not choose to reveal Himself as a mighty warrior on a steed, or in a fiery blaze of glory. Rather, our Creator came to us as the very least of these. The Word became flesh as a small, vulnerable, helpless baby. The Hope of the world lay wrapped in swaddling cloth, sleeping in a dirty, stinky manger. It almost seems unbelievable!
These images of Jesus in the manger had always been familiar to me, but this year, while setting up my nativity scenes, I thought about how God's plan rarely looks like our plan. Baby Jesus in a manger isn’t the only example of that throughout the Bible. When the Prophet Habakkuk cried out to the Lord for help, the reply he received was, “
Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it” (Habakkuk 1:5 NLT).
Our God has a history of doing the unbelievable, even in the most hopeless or unlikely circumstances.
This year may not have looked the way we had planned. But Christmas can remind us that we are able to walk in faith, knowing that God was not surprised by anything that took place this year (or the year before that, or even the year before that). He still is and always will be the King of kings, Lord of lords, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, our Redemption, our Salvation, and the Hope of the world. And although His plans may not look like our plans, Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that they always work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose (NLT). What a beautiful thing that is to be thankful for this Christmas!
Father God, as we near the end of a year that looked nothing like what we had planned, we pray that we would be encouraged by the hope of Christmas. Let the image of our Savior as a child remind us that You are the Author of life and that You are able to do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine.
“Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations.” Revelation 15:3 NLT
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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