by Scott Stephens
Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.
In the late 1700’s Michael Bruce and John Morison wrote a beautiful Christmas song, To Us a Child of Hope is Born, based on the truths that we read about the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. In the song, the authors proclaim:
To us a Child of hope is born, to us a son is giv’n. Him shall the tribes of the earth obey, him all the hosts of heav’n, him shall the tribes of earth obey, him all the hosts of heav’n.
His name shall be Prince of Peace, forevermore adored, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the great and mighty Lord. The Wonderful, the Counselor, the great and mighty Lord.
His pow’r increasing still shall spread, his reign no end shall know. Justice shall guard his throne above, and peace abound below. Justice shall guard his throne above, and peace abound below.
The hope that we have in Jesus is amazing to consider! His coming to this earth shows the great love that God has for His creation (John 3:16). Because of the love and sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ, our sin is washed clean, and we will have eternal life with Him… an eternal life which no one can take away (1 John 1:7; John 10:28-30). Without His condescension, without Him giving up His position and place beside God, coming to this earth as a baby, and without His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, we would be left to live our lives separated from God, languishing in our selfishness and sinfulness (2 Cor. 8-9; Phil. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:17). Just the thought of this makes me want to fall on my knees and worship as the hymn O Holy Night beautifully describes:
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Christmas is a time of worship and gratefulness. We have received a wonderful gift from our Creator.
The hope that we have in Jesus manifests in another way too. Our Savior has promised a day when He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Rev. 21:4).
The sad reality of this fallen world is that Christmas can be a time of sadness and loneliness. Our time on this earth is filled with loss and suffering. Christ knew that these times would come and as a result, He made provision for us in our sorrow and weakness. John 14:16 tells us that Jesus asked the Father to provide us with “another helper,” or comforter. He sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also identified by the term Paraclete. RC Sproul writes that the Greek word Parakletos means one who is called to stand alongside of you. He goes on to explain that even though the Spirit does provide consolation to those who are in pain and suffering, the old English word “comfort” means “with strength.” The Holy Spirit provides power and strength during times of sorrow.
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of compassion and God of all comfort. He has promised to provide us comfort in our troubles (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Jesus, who advocates for us at the right hand of the Father, understands what we are experiencing; He sympathizes with us because He has experienced the trials and sorrows of this life too (Heb 4:15-16)!
Jesus has promised that there is nothing that can separate us from His love (Rom 8:35). The Creator of the universe loves us, cares for us, comforts us, guides us, and advocates for us.
It can be hard in times of sorrow to remember these truths, but God provides us comfort during our sorrows. God has provided salvation through His Son Jesus Christ so that we will spend eternity with Him. God has provided the Holy Spirit who gives joy and peace to those who cry out to him in their despair.
God through the Holy Spirit also gives us an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas, so that even though we may be sad, we can fall on our knees in gratitude for the hope he has provided through Jesus.