Tis the season for Hallmark, plus a wide range of other Christmas movies old and new. Some are based on the actual reason we celebrate Christmas, but most are either crazy humor or fluffy sentiment. I like a mix of all. But I’m disturbed by the sweet-sounding advice we get from more and more movies and songs, especially at Christmas, that everything will work out if we “just believe.” “Have faith,” they say, and the “magic” will happen.

I can “just believe” I’m a giraffe, but that’s doesn’t make me one. I can “just believe” I will win the lottery, but that doesn’t mean I will (especially since I’ve never bought a ticket). I can have faith in Christmas “magic,” but that is not based in reality.

What we must know about believing, faith, hope, and trust, is that there must be an object worthy to put our faith in. There must be evidence to convince us someone or something is trustworthy and dependable, and won’t let us down. Hanging our hopes on thin air is not enough.

I believe in my husband because he proves himself every day—evidenced by his affection, commitment, faithfulness to me, and investment in our relationship. I can lean into that.

I believe in God even more, because He has proven faithful not just to me, but to millions of others throughout history. Even if my husband should fail me and break my trust, I can always hope in God, who never breaks His promises.

I once heard faith in God compared to the confidence we put in a chair when we sit down and lean back in it with our full weight. So often we approach God as if we’re unsure of His qualifications to hold us up. We tentatively perch on the edge of His lap, expecting He will get up and leave before we can settle in, or collapse on us at any moment. But that’s not what I see in scripture, in the world around me, or in my own life.

God loves it when we nestle into Him expecting Him to follow through:

The Lord delights in those who fear [respect, honor] him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Ps. 147:11, my note in brackets

Psalm 146 gives us twelve reasons why God is worthy of our hope and it just occurred to me that these reasons could be called The Twelve Hopes of Christmas:

[The generations] speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

Ps. 146:5-9, emphasis mine

  1. Splendor—We see evidence of God’s majestic glory when the sky lights up with a sunrise or sunset, drive through snow covered mountains, or watch the powerful waves of the ocean.
  2. Wonderful Works—Hope rises when we ponder the changed lives around us, His miraculous rescues, and provision.
  3. Power—God not only cares, but has power to elicit change.
  4. Great Deeds—Like my husband, God’s actions confirm His commitment to us.
  5. Abundant Goodness—God is good; it is His character, baked into the heart of who He is.
  6. Righteousness—God always does the right thing, because He has the perspective of eternity, which we do not have.
  7. Gracious—His gracious kindness is not just a polite act God puts on for company; we can be assured He will always be the same.
  8. Compassionate—We may feel compassion when we witness suffering up close, but then quickly forget and go on our way. God’s compassion does not forget.
  9. Slow to Anger—How quickly we get angry at others in traffic, when they make cutting remarks about us, or fail to appreciate us. But God sees our motivations and our heart, and gives us chance after chance to come to Him.
  10. Rich in Love—Love is in the air at Christmas, but for the most part it’s emotional and short-lived. God’s love is unconditional—based not on our character, but on His.
  11. Good to All—Scripture reminds us that God sends rain on the just and the unjust. He provides food for all. His offer of salvation is open to everyone. He does not play favorites.
  12. Compassionate to All—Finally, God’s compassion is poured out to each of us. He cares for every person He has created, and wants to give each of us a hope and a future.

Hang your hopes on Jesus this Christmas, and all year round. Lean into Him and give Him your dreams. Let Him care for your needs. For Christmas this year, give Him your heart and believe He is not just a baby in the manger, but our Lord and King, our Savior, and Redeemer.

He came as Immanuel—”God is With Us” by King and Country.