BY PERRY O. HOOPER JR.
What the world needs now is hope. It is easy to begin to lose hope in these tumultuous times. When you look around you see lawlessness in the streets, an ever changing mutating virus, inflation on the rise and our foreign adversaries are constantly rattling their sabers.
Christmas inspires hope. The symbols and stories surrounding the birth of Jesus tell us we do have hope, “Don’t give up. Keep going.”. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Light shines brightest in darkness. That’s the heart of the Christmas story, an overriding message of hope that is articulated beautifully in the lyrics of “O Holy Night”: “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” God didn’t come into our world at high noon. He entered our lives in darkness — showing us the way to light. He leads us towards hope and love. He shows us how to overcome shadows and darkness. Christmas teaches us that even when things seem dark, we can have hope. We can always trust the everlasting light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
We must share our hope: The holidays can quickly turn into a time of rushing around, from one store to the next, from one event to the next one. You can easily walk right by an elderly woman struggling to load her groceries as you rush around. You may not even notice the Salvation Army bell ringer outside the store. Take a moment to slow down and look around.
We all know someone that has greater needs than our own. Maybe it is a neighbor in poor health. A loved one going through family troubles. A neighbor dealing with a loss. We can offer them hope by taking the time to be with them and offer to help.
We can go a whole year, even through the holidays, without ever truly expressing how much someone means to us. Tell someone you love why they inspire you. Share with a friend how much you appreciate them. Tell a store clerk how helpful they were. Boost someone’s spirits with a few words of encouragement.
Kindness can go a long way in offering hope to others. Look for opportunities to give hope this Christmas.
When the Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn was in a Russian gulag, he became so physically weak and emotionally drained that he was ready to die. The brutal treatment, the terrible conditions and the hard labor had overwhelmed him. He was ready to meet his maker. He knew that if he quit working the guards would beat him, probably to death. So, one day he stopped working. He just stood still, leaned on his shovel and waited for the end to come.
When he stopped working, one of his fellow Christians knowing his fate took notice. He reached over with his shovel and drew a cross in the dirt at Solzhenitsyn’s feet. He then quickly smudged it up before the guard had a chance to see it. Solzhenitsyn later wrote that his entire being was energized by the sight of that cross. It was his symbol of hope in what was a hopeless world.
The United States is the land of hope. Hope is what, for centuries, has draw immigrants from every corner of the earth to our shores. They know that in our country there is hope for all their dreams.
The pilgrims were some of the first immigrants to our shores. It was hope for a better life that brought them here, but it was faith in their Lord Jesus Christ that sustained them.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.
From Judy and myself, as well as the entire Hooper family, we hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! May God Bless.