In Jerusalem, during the reign of the Roman Empire, before the birth of Christ, there was turmoil and restlessness in the land among the Jewish people. The heavy hand of the Roman government was making life almost unbearable for the people of Judah. There was little work, and the ordinary family lived in poverty in very meager conditions. And yet, the king was increasing taxation on the Jewish people, and so there was constant conflict, confusion and pressure in the society of that day. There seemed to be hopelessness among God's people, and life was very depressing.
But in the darkest hour in that time, the angels announced to the shepherds, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord." First John tells us that this was more than just a baby, that it was God becoming a human being. This was not a man becoming God; this was God becoming a man. The very one who had created the heavens and the earth now became a man so that He could pay the price for our sins and redeem us back to God. Yes, finally there was a hope in this dark hour for God's people.
Many people throughout the Bible and history have experienced hopelessness and desperation in their lives. Peter was kept in prison awaiting execution the next day, but God intervened. In the Book of Daniel, three young Hebrew men were thrown into a fiery furnace because they would not bow and worship an idol, but God stepped in and delivered them. In the Old Testament there was a widow whose son was going to be sold into slavery because she could not pay the debt of her deceased husband, but God multiplied the little oil that she had in such a miraculous way that she was able to sell the oil and pay the debt and save her son from slavery.
Even today in the United States of America, there seems to be hopelessness in the lives of many people. There are children who have no father, and there is an emptiness and loneliness in their lives. There are people who are not earning enough money to pay their bills. There are families that are divided and will not speak to each other.
There seems to be an increase in violence and anger as people are at odds among themselves. There are also many people who are imprisoned and bound by drugs, alcohol and habits which have enslaved them, and there seems to be no help for them. Taxes, expenses and the cost of living seem to be going up, but our wages seem to be getting less. Our once-great nation seems to be faltering and we wonder, "Where will it ever end?" Will we ever see the good old days again, and will our nation survive, or will terrorism, anarchy and division tear our once-great nation apart? Is there hope today? I believe that there is a hope for today, just as there was at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.
That very one, whose birth was prophesied by the prophets of old and announced by the angels on that first Christmas morning, is still our hope. He is the hope for you personally, for our hurting families, for our divided nation and for this world. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace and the hope for us today!
- Lauver is the pastor at New Life Church in Pennsdale.