Large family gatherings filled with hugs and laughter. Shopping trips in bustling, crowded stores. Children excitedly counting down the days to December 25. For me, these are some things that signal Christmastime is here—a whole month covered in delicious anticipation. Like the turkey and cranberry sauce running together on my holiday dinner plate, the days pass with one taste after another of cheery goodness. Normally, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
But a normal Christmas doesn’t seem possible while the world battles a global pandemic. What hope do we have at this now anxious and fear-filled time of the year?
Sure, we can hope to celebrate Christmas with loved ones in good health. We can hope that an effective COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available. We can hope that 2021 will be better than 2020. But there is no guarantee that any of these good things will actually happen. Hope in the things of this world is nothing more than wishful thinking.
The Bible describes something drastically different: hope that is based on promises. Hope that comes with guaranteed outcomes. As we are tossed by waves of change and instability, we need to hold fast to what is solid and certain.
Romans 8:38-39 offers two promises that can anchor our insecure hearts in true hope.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1. Find Hope in the Love of God
“…[nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God…” (Rom. 8:39).
As news and information change daily, even by the minute, God’s love is unchanging. His affection for his children is not moved by the ways of this world. Christian believers can be certain that nothing can take away God’s love for us. Not diseases or death. Not demonic forces. Not the circumstances of today. Not the trials of tomorrow. Nothing in this world can alter or remove God’s gracious, unwavering love for his people.
God’s loving commitment to us means that he chooses our present circumstances according to his love for us. Because “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), he will use these circumstances to accomplish his purposes for our good and his glory. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the one who makes it possible for us to be eternally loved by God—and never separated from that love. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 Jn. 4:9).
2. Find Hope in the Lordship of Christ
…the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39).
Believers are able to call Christ Jesus our “Lord” because Jesus became our High Priest, the perfect sacrifice required by the most holy God. When we understand this sacred transaction, we recognize that we now belong to this Lord Jesus. Not only does he love us, but he also owns us. He has full authority over our lives. We can find hope in the Lord who has full control of all creation—even during a pandemic.
Jesus is Lord over the brokenness and disease that plague our world. While we continue to endure the challenges of COVID-19, the future may seem bleak with little hope of a return to normalcy anytime soon. But when we put our hope in Christ Jesus our Lord, we take comfort in the fact that our Lord has already determined the end of the pandemic. He has already claimed the ultimate victory over sin and death, and we can anticipate a future that is utterly secure and certain in his hands. This future has already been promised to us and purchased for us by our great High Priest.
Celebrating Christmas may look different this year. Our usual ways of gathering and gift-giving may not be possible. Our usual counting-down to Christmas Day may be tinged with worry and fear. Instead of hoping for the temporary comforts or pleasures of this world, let’s put our hope in the love of God and the Lordship of Christ. This is the true hope of Christmas that we celebrate! Because God will never remove his love from us, and because Jesus Christ is Lord, our hearts are anchored and our hope is secure.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).