The markets may be unpredictable, but so is all of life. We can never know what a year, or even a day, will bring.
Christmas offers a heart-lifting counterpoint. It tells us we can be sure about some things even in an uncertain world. Here are three of them.
• God loves us. A noted theologian, once asked to summarize life's work in theology, reportedly said, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
His complex reflections and deep thoughts all came down to a profound and comforting truth, summarized succinctly in John's gospel.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)
• God has a plan. The birth of the Messiah, foretold as early as Genesis 3, unfolded not at random but on God's exact timetable.
[W]hen the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)
Though the unveiling of God's plan may be slow-moving, its fulfillment is not in question.
I say, "My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please."...
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do. (Isaiah 46:10, 11b)
• God's Word can be trusted. Mary and Joseph continued to believe what the angelic messengers revealed about the Holy Child, even as the circumstances that followed seemed to go awry.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.... And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1, 3-7)
A Christmas hymn captures the seeming absurdity of the situation. "Such a babe in such a place, can he be the Savior?"
Through it all, Mary and Joseph set an example for each of us by "walk[ing] by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
John's gospel doesn't include an account of the Nativity story. Instead, John spells out the implications of the Incarnation.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.... But to all...who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.... (John 1:9-10, 12)
Later, John captures these words of Jesus about his mission:
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
To the shepherds on the hillside, the angelic messenger announced "good news of great joy." Indeed, because a Savior has been born, we can endure present troubles and future uncertainty with confidence.
We can know, for certain, that a loving, trustworthy God is with us now — and that he is working things toward a good end.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.... And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 21:1, 3-4, 22:20)
Amen. Merry Christmas!