The day after Thanksgiving Day for some means a return to work, for others it’s a day for visiting family or resting at home, for lots of folks it’s a crazy day for shopping. But whatever is required of you this day, may it be spent well. Give thanks to God for whatever He’s given you and prepare to celebrate anew the amazing and wonderful hope we have in our Savior!
Hopefully your day yesterday was spent in a genuine spirit of thanksgiving. The benefits for you are countless in spite of the world’s tendency to consider ourselves somehow deprived (because there is always someone who has something that we don’t have). The realization that there are things in our lives for which all of us may be thankful can begin the soothing work of calming our frantic nerves and helps to open the door for those spiritual blessings which those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior have become heirs. Those things for instance which we, may pause to consider during the ensuing Christmas season (e.g., hope, peace, love, and joy) suddenly find that “room at the inn” has been made by the cleansing work of gratitude.
And the fact that there is truly a deserving recipient of our thanksgiving, namely God, reminds us that there is One, greater than ourselves, Who is in control of our history even as it continues to unfold before our very eyes. Our gratitude causes us to recognize that He is actively at work today in spite of our pride and inclination for selfishness: at work in the world… and at work in our individual lives.
Remember that our hope is not in a new presidential administration. Nor is it in an improving economy. It isn’t in military prowess or in technology or even in guaranteed medical coverage. Our hope is in God.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:1, 5).
Throughout the ages, men and women have discovered that there is hope in only Jesus Christ. It has become crystal clear that even in our changing world that we desperately need hope.
“Ron” was sure that he could find fulfillment in his work, and always gunned for bigger and better jobs. But then he lost his job through a layoff. During this time of feeling like a failure and in this season of worry for his family’s needs, a neighbor told him that God could give him hope and proof of it was that Jesus died for his sin. “Ron” placed his faith in Jesus and found his hopelessness turned into an irrepressible certainty that God was in control. After a few months of trusting that God’s time was best, a door was opened for him at a new company… one in which his needs were met and also one in which he could share with others what he had found in Jesus Christ.
“Tami” discovered that the unconditional love and acceptance for which she had been searching in an endless string of rocky relationships couldn’t be found in a man. One after another, the relationships resulted in her being betrayed and broken. She lost all sense of personal worth and had no hope left. But then she hit a website that talked about filling up the emptiness inside with hope… the kind of hope that Jesus gave to a woman at a well in Samaria nearly two thousand years ago. She learned that Jesus was crucified in her place, showing an unconditional love that even death cannot suffocate or defeat. “Tami” bowed her head right then, admitting that she had sinned and seeking His forgiveness. She gave Him her heart and found that she was both beautiful and precious to Him. With this new start she quit racing from relationship to relationship and eventually found a man who also belonged to the Lord and with whom she truly belonged.
Today if our eyes are on anything other than God, darkness will infect our sight causing us to either despair or to be swooned into the short-lived delusion that we can find happiness and wholesomeness in ourselves or in some sort of substitute for God. But the gloom of humanity’s hopelessness is shattered by the piercing light of God’s presence. The rays of His love still bring new life to hearts and souls withered by life’s unfulfilled promises, scorching hatreds, and parching Godlessness.
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is God… whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them, the LORD, Who remains faithful forever” (Psalm 146:3-6 NIV).
Remember that this season is a celebration of hope… hope that is only found in God’s gift of His Son. This season is all about the hope we can find in Jesus Christ.