Evidence of Hope This Christmas

For to us a child is born . . . Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end . . . The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
— Isaiah 9:6-7

Have you watched the news recently? Things look dour, don’t they? But, I have good news that I hope will encourage you.

There is Evidence of Hope

Rather than feeling anxious about what media companies either do or don’t tell you, let’s have eyes to see and ears to hear what really matters this Christmas season. Little things often provide testimony that, no matter what the news anchors are saying, Christ brings peace and hope to individuals. To those people who feel that peace and hope, the evidence isn’t so little.

I challenge you to join me this Christmas season in looking for proof of God’s zeal to deliver on His promise that Jesus breaks through even the toughest circumstances with a reign of peace. Below are a couple of examples to get us started in our quest for evidence.

God’s Zeal in the Slum

I could have missed it when I visited a sprawling slum where Food for the Hungry works. It was a flower. To some, that may have been all it was. To me, it was a bright spot in an otherwise desolate place. It provided evidence of a transformation in the hearts of the family that lived inside the tiny dwelling. Further evidence was that the mother of the household was sweeping her porch.

A woman struggling with daily survival had a sense of pride. She wanted to welcome her guests with beauty, something Food for the Hungry actively pursues as we help people overcome poverty.

To me, the flower and the woman sweeping proclaimed that the King had broken in for this family. The reign of His peace had taken over the hearts of this family, even in a hard place like a slum.

God’s Zeal in a Refugee Camp

Talk about seemingly hopeless situations, the camps where Rohingya refugees have been forced to flee qualify. To get here, families ran for their lives from Myanmar into Bangladesh, only to now live in crowded settlements of homes made with donated bamboo sticks and plastic sheets.

Camps like this are places where mothers wait to name their babies until they’re sure their precious children will survive. In these places, children walk through raw sewage in the dirt streets, and diarrhea takes the lives of way too many children.

But still . . .  I see a glimmer.

There is a young man who was an English teacher until soldiers set his village on fire and killed as many people as they could. He used everything he had to get to Bangladesh and now lives in a settlement that stretches as far as he can see. While his situation is difficult, he found purpose by volunteering as a community health worker. Instead of teaching children English, he now teaches fellow refugees about water, sanitation, and hygiene practices. He has learned about basic disease detection and is helping to reverse the trend of “diarrhea takes the lives of way too many children” among his neighbors.

To me, neighbors helping neighbors overcome health issues so babies can receive names the day they’re born provides evidence that the King is breaking through in one of the world’s most hopeless places, replacing desperation with His reign of peace.

God’s Zeal in the U.S.

An employee came into the Food for the Hungry office recently with his 3-year-old daughter. I asked what had her excited this Christmas. It was the lights. She and her family had walked their neighborhood, and this little girl was most excited about putting up their family’s Christmas lights.

Even in the midst of consumerism, God’s zeal is reaching into the hearts of people and making His presence known.

Christmas doesn’t represent just the coming of Christ. It also represents the present work that He’s doing.

God is zealous for this work. His heart beats fast and with passion for what He can do. Even when we might feel low, confused, or even despondent, God is breaking into this world with His government and peace. His work knows no end.

What evidence of God’s government and peace are you seeing this Christmas season?