Last week, I listened to a teaching that tremendously encouraged me. A reminder that our hope is real, a reminder that the real reason anyone celebrates (or should celebrate) Christmas is because of our great hope in the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus. It was an interesting jump, from the hope of Jacob and Joseph, as the pastor finished up the book of Genesis. But his point was this, why on earth was it important to Jacob and Joseph to be buried in the promised land, if they didn’t have hope in the promise of God to them? Likewise, why should we celebrate Christmas if Jesus is not coming back?

As I thought about this, I realized what an integral part of the gospel the return of Jesus is. He came, lived, died for our sins, was raised from the dead (proof of His worthy sacrifice), and is coming back again for us. Either all of it is true or none of it.

I realized how appropriate the title of my blog is: Hope-challenged. For surely in this world everything sets out to challenge our hope. We are attacked on all sides. From the insidious whispers of doubt that attacked Eve in Eden (“has God said?”) to questioning the inerrancy of the Bible, the reality of the Virgin Birth, we don’t question His death, but a real resurrection? And we are warned in Scripture that in the Last Days people will mock the hope of His second coming.

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NAS95)

But He is coming, and I am so thankful for the constant reminder during this secular season. Every time I see the secular celebration, my heart cries out, “No, there is more, He has come, and He is coming.”

This is especially real to me as I approach my first Christmas without Rich and apart from the family. I suppose some people would say, “aw come on, you were only there three years,” but they were the most precious three years of my life. I miss Rich and the family terribly, yet I know I will see Rich again because He is with Jesus, whole and healed. And while I may be separated by distance from my family, God is with each one, working in their lives, and I can trust HIS good work in them.

As I face the coming holiday celebrations and a New Year, grief seems to be an unwelcome guest haunting my every step. And yet, as I’ve considered the sorrow, the sadness, the tears, I would not trade them for anything because I would not sorrow if I had not loved and still love.

I am so thankful for Rich and the three years I had with him. I learned more about love in those three years than I learned my whole life.

I am thankful for each one of Rich’s children. Each one has been a gift to me from God in ways they will never know, they are a part of my heart forever.

I am thankful for how God has carried me through these past few months, and will continue to carry and guide me in the new direction He has for me.

And I am thankful for all my friends, and their prayers and encouragement over the years, especially now.

As I close, I am reminded of the words from an old song by Keith Green, “How can they live without Jesus?” I am pasting the words in at the end of this post.

With these thoughts in mind, may you have a precious Christ Centered Christmas and New Year.

In HIS Grace


How Can They Live Without Jesus
by Keith Green

How can they live without Jesus
How can live without God’s love
How can they feel so at home down here
When there’s so much more up above
Throwin’ away things that matter
They hold on to things that don’t
The world has gone crazy
But soon maybe
A lot more are gonna know.

For maybe they don’t understand it
Or maybe they just haven’t heard
Or maybe we’re not doin’ all we can
Living up to His Holy Word
‘Cause phonies have come
And wrongs been done
Even killing in Jesus’ name
And if you’ve been burned
Here’s what I’ve learned
The Lord’s not the one to blame.

For He’s not just a religion
With steeples and bells
Or a salesman who will sell you
The things you just want to hear
For His love was such
That he suffered so much
To cause some of us
Just to follow, follow.

So many laughing at Jesus
While the funniest thing that He’s done
Is love this whole stubborn rebellious world
While their hate for Him just goes on.

And love just like that
Will bring him back
For the few He can call His friends
The ones He’s found true
Who’ve made it through
Enduring until the end.