Hopeless at Christmas

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

As December approaches, so does the Christmas season. To some it is a time of great hope. To others it is a time of despair. No matter which side of the spectrum you come from, I believe Christmas itself can inspire hope in each of us. However, before jumping into hope, I want to address a question many of us struggle with: why do I feel so hopeless sometimes?

Often, when I discuss hopelessness, it is from the perspective of someone impacted by an issue such as poverty. In these cases, it appears to be easier to identify the sources of the hopelessness. If someone is struggling to feed their family, you can understand why they might feel hopeless. There is another side to this story though, isn’t there. What about someone who seems to have everything they need, and maybe even want? They can find themselves mired in hopelessness, but it can be more difficult to pin down the cause.

The truth is anyone can experience hopelessness, even when it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

Interestingly, we can gain some insight from the original Christmas story. In my book, Hope Realized, I reference a portion of Hebrews, a letter recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. Specifically, I look at a line in Chapter 11 that says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) This chapter then goes on to reference a number of people who took steps rooted in something they believed would happen one day but maybe not in their day. To say it another way, many of them never saw the complete fulfillment of the promise on which they were waiting. Again, we will dig into why they remained hopeful in the midst of their waiting, but it provides us a clue for the reason so many become hopeless.

While the people such as Abraham referenced in Hebrews remained hopeful, many did not. In fact, as time marched on between Abraham and the original Christmas story, many began to wonder if the promise would ever be fulfilled. This left them searching for hope, hoping something would provide what they need. Have you ever been there? Maybe you are today.

Hopelessness comes in many forms and from many circumstances, but I find it ultimately is rooted a broken identity and misplaced hopes. I went deeper into misplaced hopes in my article titled The Real-Life Consequences of Circumstantial Hope, but they are often driven by a lack of clarity on who you were created to be. This is a broken identity.

It is in this broken identity we find ourselves feeling hopeless. We begin to wonder if our life really matters or if we are “just existing”. In our search for significance, we grasp to anything we think might fulfill us only to find that it falls short. Lacking a clear and ultimate source of hope, we begin to accept that nothing can ever change. A low level of hopelessness sets in and we begin to just “try to get through the day.” For some, this could even be the reason they do not look forward to the holiday season. Instead of a time of joy, it is reminder of unrealized hopes and dreams.

This seems to be where many people found themselves before the original Christmas story. The promises that once inspired people to hold onto hope seemingly no longer lived inside of many. They wondered if God had forgotten them. Their reality only reinforced their belief that nothing could ever change. They were created for a life of less than and hoping for anything more was an exercise in futility. Even if a life-changing source of hope showed up at their doorstep, their state of hopelessness might prevent them from recognizing it.

This is where the original Christmas story steps in, but more on that next time.

In the meantime, as Christmas approaches, take a few minutes to consider how hope-filled you are these days. Once you know where you stand on the hope spectrum, resolve to be open enough to see hope if it shows up this holiday season. The people who were on that original Christmas day had a life-changing encounter. Could the same be true for you this year?

Check back next time as we explore how Christmas can inspire hope in you.

James Belt

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