Monday, December 26, 2016

Brighter Days, Higher Hopes

"He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'..." - Job 37:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot

When the time comes for Christmas to be celebrated, the world seems to take a pause. A rest. Living in this country of Canada affords incredible freedoms and privileges that enable a greater awareness of that pause. That for a short while, all hardship, fighting, and difficulties appear to cease.

Unfortunately, for those who don't know Jesus or living in dangerous places/situations, may find it very difficult to have hope. That taking a pause or knowing rest is a foreign concept.

As a Christian, Christmas is an incredible time because it brings to mind the wonder and blessing of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born in a stable, laid in a manger, under the bright star in Bethlehem.

For Christians, that single birth represents the hope, joy, peace, and spectacular reassurance of greater things to come. Like the promise of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.

For me, this time of year causes deep reflection on the past twelve months and things that have changed and grown, both inwardly and outwardly. Thoughts come of how God has worked in my life, heart, mind, and spirit in wonderful and unexpected ways.

How He has changed things for the better as my pursuit of Him quickens. How good and faithful He continues to be even during those times of heartbreak and struggle.

Which brings about other thoughts during reflection. Thoughts of another year without the manifestation of marriage. Of hopes and dreams dashed and unfulfilled even though God knows what desires lie deep within. God given desires.

Even though tears are shed and the pain of disappointment runs deep, God always brings other blessings along to over shadow the things that were wished for to be waiting in pretty wrapping under the tree.

Blessings like sharing tidings of the season with friends. Spending time with family around a buffet of home cooking. Being present in each moment of the blessing so as not to miss a single word, glance, or smile. Hugging those tightly who have only come for a short while, wishing they could stay longer. Sharing in the announcement and celebration of wonderful news.

Those are the things to hold on to because they will keep you hoping for the things yet to come. Greater things beyond imagination and comprehension. At least that is my hope and belief.

So choosing to soak in the happiness and joy of right now instead of being sorrowful for the things that still haven't happened is my posture right now. Every effort will be made to remain in that posture so that every day can be enjoyed. This, my friend, is my great hope for you as this Christmas season, once again, passes away and the dawn of a new year quickly approaches.

As the cone in this post's picture looks forward to new life in the coming spring, it is my hope that you will also look forward to the coming year. That the past would be left behind. That the present would be cherished, even in the tough times, and that the future would be something that invokes excitement.

Encouragement for the week:

As enjoyable and exciting as this time of year can be, it may also be overwhelming and stressful.

Expectations placed on us by others can, sometimes, place a damper on what we hoped Christmas would be.

May I just encourage you, this week, to take time by yourself to reflect on the past year. Think about the things you faced and overcame. About the changes that happened not only in you, for the better, but also in others or in your life situation.

In spite of the pain, hurt, or disappointment you may have incurred in the past year, a new year is about to dawn and the possibilities and opportunities for you are endless.

If you are a Christian reading this, you not only have the extraordinary joy of knowing your salvation is secured as you follow God and live your life for Him, but each day with Him is also an adventure. Yes, even in the ordinary, mundane, monotonous days.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can share in the great hope that I and others have within the personal relationship we share with God and Jesus Christ. A hope that will bring you peace, joy, contentment, and the excitement of greater things to come by knowing Jesus.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. For those who struggle during the holidays, I pray for great peace and comfort to wash over you. I pray for hope to fill you all as we approach a new year.

**The photo in this post is the debut of my photography. I hope you enjoy this picture and each one to come. Each photo has also been inspired by Scripture found in the Bible.**

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