Shari has been active in Women’s Ministry leadership for over 20 years and is a Lifeway Women Trainer. She currently serves as Co-Coordinator for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Inspire Women’s Conference, and in the ABSC Women’s Ministry Leader Network. She holds a BA in Journalism and Public Relations and currently serves as Adjunct Instructor of Ministry to Women at Ouachita Baptist University Pruet School of Christian Studies. Shari is a wife of 32 years to her college sweetheart, mother of 3 sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law. She is also “Sibby” to 2 precious young granddaughters. She resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas and has been an active member of Park Hill Baptist for 26 years. Shari loves to encourage women in their everyday and leadership lives and can be found at genesisgirlsministry.com, on Instagram @sharibeth88, and on Facebook.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices; for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”
I love to think about this line from a favorite Christmas hymn. When I think of hope, it can be a wonderfully dangerous feeling. Hope can be received and shared, bringing life, and it can also be destroyed and devastated, bringing disappointment. Proverbs 13:12 says “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I imagine you can think of several friends and family who are experiencing a heartbreaking Christmas this year. Maybe you are feeling a sense of hopelessness. Losing a loved one in death, suffering serious medical crises, or maybe divorce, fractured family relationships, loss of job or setback in career — all of these can make a heart lose hope. It can bring a sense of darkness – a feeling of despair.
When we feel hopeless, the first step is to see what God says in His word. Seek His truth. What does the birth of Christ have to do with feeling hopeless? In Matthew 4:16 we read that “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” In John 1, we read that “Jesus was in the beginning with God. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Imagine if you were living in the 400 year period when God was silent – the time between the Old Testament book of Malachi and the opening of the New Testament and the gospel of Matthew. At that time, the people of Israel were walking in prolonged spiritual darkness. Those who believed the Messiah – the Promised One, was coming, must have wondered if God had left them or maybe He had forgotten. The people longed for the coming of the Savior. We see that the book of Malachi begins with this declaration: “I have loved you,” says the Lord. How tender our Lord is to His people. And toward the end, we see this phrase, “they will be mine, my own possession on the day I am preparing.” And then, God seems to be silent.
Have you ever been in a place where you feel that God is silent? That He has forgotten or abandoned His promise to you? I recently heard a guest on a podcast share how we are living between the Advents, Advent meaning “the arrival of a notable person or thing; the coming, first or second, of Christ.” During Christmas, we focus on Christ’s first coming, and rightly so, but do we also contemplate the fact that He is coming again? And much like his first coming, when the eyes of the shepherds and wise men were drawn heavenward toward the glory of God and the star in the sky, when He comes again, our eyes will once again be lifted to the heavens. Luke describes this moment in chapter 21, verse 28: “They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory … stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”
People living in the world when Jesus was born were weary and downtrodden. People today are still weary and downtrodden. When Jesus entered our world as a baby, he brought the promise of a Savior. Jesus came with a mission and that was to save His people from their sins. He descended into the darkness of the grave on our behalf and His victorious resurrection gives us life everlasting and hope for new beginnings. Jesus promises us in John 8, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Just as those in the days of Malachi longed for the Light of the World, we still long today for His coming and our hearts desperately need to know He keeps His promises. He does, my friend — every single one. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, look for His coming, and listen for His truth this Christmas. May we be people who walk in the Light of Hope as we radiate that hope to a weary world.