“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Merry Christ – “mess”? Covid 19, Delta, Omicron, Mandates, Lock Downs, Online, Quarantine are all words that have been introduced to us all too often since the 15 days to slow the spread. Virus, politics, sickness, death, and separation suck the joy out of what should be one of the most joyous times of the year all over the world. What happened to the words like bliss, jubilant, festive, and jolly? Or how about gathering, family, fun and friends? Instead, the week before Christmas 2021 has been about vaccines, testing, and inflation. I know you do not read this devotion to get more of the headline news so I will get to the point, and I pray it will help you celebrate Christmas with much hopeful anticipation of God’s blessings. God is doing something in the middle of the mess.
I was praying this morning for my family, staff, and who I call my PAG Peeps (aka my church family). I received a call earlier today with some not so good news that sprung me into my shepherd with rod mode. I could sense the spiritual wolves circling to feast on the hope and joy that was left in the tank after such a depressing report. There are times when bad news can get me unfocused and perplexed like it is designed to do by the enemy. At other times though, it can get me laser focused, and I know what to pray and with hopeful and confident expectation, my prayers singe through the chaos and I can feel my faith being powerful and effective. (What God wants us to do.) This is what caused this last writing of 2021 today. As I prayed God’s word, I could sense what God wanted me to write in this devotion. I grabbed my cup of coffee, blanket, and computer,, and with my faithful sidekick, Bandit, by my side these words have been typed and hopefully proofread before sending.
As I was praying, God dropped Jeremiah 29:11 into my mind. It is an incredible prophetic promise to God’s people during a very trying time. No one likes to go through the trial, but why would we need hope if we did not have to navigate through difficult seasons? It is in times of darkness when God’s word lights the path forward. When I prayed this verse, I literally stopped on the word hope. It is a word God has had me meditating on for a few weeks now. God gave me a personal exercise with hope as I have been working through my own trials. Some that I have shared in these devotions in 2021. Why would God have me focus on this word? Because it moves me forward in my heart and mind to eventually prepare my feet to walk it out in the future. So many times the feelings and emotions of our pain can keep us painfully trapped in our circumstances. We do not see a way out. That is when God comes and says to us, “I am the way out. Follow Me!” In the middle of our mess, He shows us the power of Christ!
This is what God is speaking to us today in the middle of this “Christ – mess”. Christ is hope in the mess! Let that sink down into your jolly soul in Jesus. Do not allow the enemy to steal your future through discouraging news. Just as God spoke hope to Israel surrounded by despair and leaders who were not following Him, God speaks hope to our “Winter of severe illness and death” as some in leadership want to describe what is ahead. I am not one to deny reality. What we are going through is very real, and I have friends who have experienced the fatal finality of this virus. I am not anti-anything and pray people use wisdom and to know their own situation as to what they need to do to be healthy. But I also know the difference between speaking death and life and what we need right now is a word of life and that is what God is speaking in this devotion today.
Yes, it is bad, and many are experiencing the pain of the reality, but there is hope and there is a future and right now even though we may not physically be able to experience it, our minds and our hearts can begin to operate in it. This in turn will change the conversation around the “Christ – mess” dinner table and turn it into a Christmas feast. It will highlight joyful expectation and genuine compassion. It will cause us to remember people who are hurting this Christmas and need our prayers and actions to help them grieve. This in turns helps them to see Christ and know that there are better days ahead. Hope is helpful and contagious. I pray that our leaders can find it. If they find it, I pray that they can declare it. Even when there is bad news sprinkled in, a little hope goes a long way for morale. If you are reading this, you can be a bearer of good news and hope. Speak it, live it and show it. It really does help.
This Christmas and New Year, allow hope (joyful and confident expectation in God’s love and power), to brighten your heart and mind. Give joy knowing that we have so much to look forward to because Christ knows how to overcome and move us through our mess. Let us be moved by God to be light, love and joy. While we live this out in real time, let God’s hope keep you joyfully expecting health, breakthroughs, wisdom, and favor knowing that our future is bright. I pray hope and God’s abundant blessings over you and yours. Merry CHRISTMAS and Happy New Year!