Encouragement From The Word

Hopes and fears

One of the most beloved Christmas carols is “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  In that carol, New England preacher Phillips Brooks wrote, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Well, let’s say that 2021 has brought with it its own share of hopes and fears, intermingled.  And Brooks’ words have never been more true:  even the hopes and fears of 2021 are met in Bethlehem’s manger.  No matter what the world may throw at us, Jesus is able to meet it head on.

And this is not just warm, fuzzy romanticism: if we will believe it, it is true.  Of course, there are those for whom the truth proclaimed in Christmas carols remains mere romanticism, because they lack faith in the One those carols exalts.  But when we believe that Jesus came into this world to save sinners like us, we realize in a most profound way that “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

The late theologian, J. I. Packer, once said, “Faith is not just believing Christian truth, but forsaking self-confidence and man-made hopes to trust wholly in Christ.”

We might look back on the year and be pretty proud of ourselves – for surviving, if nothing else.  But faith in Christ means realizing that even that comes solely by God’s grace.

So bring your hopes and your fears, and lay them at the foot of the manger in Bethlehem.  It’s a move you won’t regret.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy
” (Psalm 34.4-5a, NLT).