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Hope For Forever, and Now
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Mike Wilkins
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By Mike Toth

This past year was a tough one for our family. The normal serious stressors such as work, raising children including a freshman in high school, rising costs of everything, etc. combined with a few of life's curveballs to make it one of our most challenging yet.

When we poked our heads out of our little sandbox the view wasn't necessarily a whole lot better, with mudslinging politicians, terrorism, the waning influence of the Christian church, and the general free fall in morals and ethics pushing Christians to fade into the relative safety of the back ground. I think the respite of the Christmas season may be more welcome than it has been in a long time.

The fact that Christmas has morphed from an intentionally Christian event isn't in and of itself a huge problem. Celebrating a season of joy with family and friends, giving of presents and over indulging (a bit) in holiday treats isn't wrong. For the Christian, however, this is incomplete.

The mangers we put up and the Christmas services and plays we participate in represent something far more vast and powerful than we can imagine. These symbols represent more than hope and salvation for mankind throughout all of eternity; these symbols represent very real hope and promises for the now.

Recently the term “first world problems” trended widely on message boards, in memes, and even in print media to describe some of the ludicrous things that people struggle with in the Western world. Indeed, the traumas suffered by those who got the wrong order in the coffee shop or maybe had to suffer with a whole wheat bagel rather than the favored multigrain are tough to sympathize with.

The truth is, though, that despite our struggle with shallowness, people are hurting all around us, both inside the churches and out. While we in the west still blush with an embarrassment of riches of food, clean water, and wealth of all kinds, life is becoming increasingly uncertain and difficult.

The fact is that we were never promised that we would have no trouble in life; in fact, Jesus promised that we would (John 16:33). Despite the fact that Christians have been bought with a price we can never repay, in ransom for a debt we could never redress, doesn't make us exempt from trials, temptations, or heartache. It does, however, give us access to the grace of the everlasting God.

That grace doesn't always take the form that we are looking for. But in these troubled times we have been promised that we would never be forsaken, never deserted, never forgotten. If we follow Christ and truly believe what He said we have an unrelenting Savior Who is strong when we are weak, who is faithful when we are not, and who is tireless when we are exhausted.

Many of us will be facing the same struggles and fears at the end of this Christmas season as we did when we came into it. We have a Savior who is trustworthy. If you know Him, take some time during this season to reflect on why you trust Him. If you do not know Him, take a few moments during this season to learn why you should.

Jesus is not simply the reason for the season. Jesus IS the season, both now and in all seasons.