Ordained and licensed ministers with Christian International Apostolic Network and Generals International.

Finding Hope In A Manger

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Christmas is such a magical time. It can mean so many wonderful things—gifts, gatherings with family and friends, and for some—even the wonder of snow. Of course most of all, it means that Jesus, the Son of God, willingly laid aside His Godhead to be born in a humble manger.

But many times the circumstances of our lives do not line up with the enchantment of the season. We might be experiencing loss—things like the death of a loved one, divorce, relational discord, or geographic separation. We may be feeling the strain and disappointment brought by poor health, financial or job-related difficulties, betrayal, or any number of circumstances beyond our control.

In order to find comfort ourselves and be able to comfort others in this season struggling with loneliness, depression, loss or despair, it’s important to understand God’s heart of love towards us—a love that provided the gift of a baby destined for the cross.

Understanding God’s Heart: His Scriptural Promises

As a young believer, I subconsciously absorbed the mindset that God was somehow displeased, upset, or impatient with me. I felt my life and actions never quite measured up—and that mentality restricted my ability to hope.

My life was transformed when I began to understand that God’s genuine heart for me is that I prosper and thrive, and that the unfortunate or difficult circumstances affecting my life are not His doing. I came to realize that when something is lost or destroyed, it is because the enemy (satan) has somehow influenced my life, and even then, God will work to redeem the harm or evil that has come against me. (See Jer. 29:11; John 10:10; Rom. 8:28.)

Over time, I began to claim and decree certain passages from scripture that brought me great hope, such as Isaiah 54. This entire chapter is extremely timely, and well-worth meditating on, but several verses have become especially precious to me. Verses 13-15 say:

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.

If you are a parent of a prodigal son or daughter, I encourage you to decree verse 13 daily over your child. God’s heart of hope and restoration is not just for you, but also for your entire family.

Understanding God’s Heart: His Prophetic Promises

We can sometimes lose heart when we’ve received a prophetic promise but do not see it manifest. Reviewing some examples from scripture can encourage us in this area.

What better time to consider the promise given to Mary than at Christmas. That a virgin would conceive and give birth to the Messiah was absolutely impossible! But the very impossibility of Mary’s promise might have been foremost in God’s mind.

We can take heart that God’s prophetic promises inherently create life. The angel spoke to Mary and said, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) This phrase could literally be translated, “No word spoken by God is without power.” In other words, if God speaks a prophetic promise to you, the power to make it happen is built in!

We can also be encouraged from the example of Sarah. Hebrews 11:11 states:

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

As we lean into His faithfulness, we receive strength that our promises might come to pass.

It is also worth noting that some of our promises may not be intended to manifest in our lifetime. Abraham is an apt example of this. While he and Sarah eventually did see the promised son born, some of their promises were generational. Sometimes I remind myself that my children may complete some of my promises—my job is to remain steadfast in the faithfulness of God.

Another aspect to consider is that the fulfillment of our promises may not look the way we expect. Again, Mary is a powerful example for us in the Christmas season. While she did indeed bear the Son of God, the reality of her life did not necessarily reflect the greatness of her call.

She was at times misjudged and misunderstood, and surely had her moments of confusion and despair. (See Luke 2:35.) Even that circumstances forced the savior to be born in a lowly stable had to have puzzled her.

She must have reminded herself many times of what the angel said… that nothing is impossible with God!

The Great Exchange

Only recently have I come to more fully appreciate what the babe in the manger must have cost Father God. As a parent, I would gladly die to spare the lives of any of my four children, yet God freely gave His one and only Son for you and I—while we were yet His enemies! (Rom. 5:10)

Because, of course—the reason for the babe in a manger was the man on a cross. Isaiah 53 reveals that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (v. 4). In becoming the sacrifice for our sin, a divine exchange was created. He became comfort to all who mourn—the one who brings beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isa. 61:1-3)

Pray with me in this season—“Lord, I receive the hope in a manger which led to the sacrifice on a cross. I give You my sorrow and receive Your joy. Thank you for this divine exchange made possible through the gift of Your Son.” Amen.

Posted on Elijah List.

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