With the Christmas holidays approaching, we so often hear the word hope. It seems hope is synonymous with Christmas. This is indeed true as Christmas is the story of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is in Jesus we find hope. As Billy Graham said his message Christmas, a Time of Renewed Hope: “The Scriptures say, “There is born to you this day … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Heaven and Earth joined together! God and mankind reconciled. Hope for the hopeless, pardon for the guilty, forgiveness for the conscience-stricken, peace for those who knew no peace, Good News for those who have had nothing but bad news!” 

As Christians, we are privileged to have a life of hope, on not only Christmas day, but every day. Yes, often Christmas is a time people reflect on the birth of our Savior and thus our hope can be renewed, but Jesus is always giving us hope. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Hebrews 6:19 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus….”

With this in mind, I want to share with you a speech, “Dreaming Big” written by my 14 year old niece, Elizabeth Elliott:

“My dream has always been to go to the Olympics for gymnastics and it never struck me that there could be something that could stand in the way of my dream. Last year I was chosen to represent the province of Gauteng in the South African championships in Cape Town. I was ready, I had trained hard, knew all my routines. Then it happened. Five days before the competition, I fell while doing a somersault on our trampoline, and I tore my ligament. I was put in a moon-boot for six weeks and I missed my competition. I was angry and upset, how could this happen? Christopher Paolini said, “Anger is poison. You must purge it from your mind or else it will corrupt your better nature.” Anger is something that many people struggle with today, but the problem with it is that it makes you feel as if it is everyone else’s fault and that they must pay. Anger is caused by pride, “How could this happen to ME?” and in the end, you can’t even see past the end of your nose. We all get angry, but sometimes you have to just let it go and look at the positive side of the situation, EVEN when it seems like everyone is against you. I, unfortunately, didn’t deal with my anger and I kept it inside me, but the problem with that is that even although you try and forget it, it still kills you on the inside. I learnt that the hard way.

Three months later, I went back to gym and started to train again. All was going well, and then something happened that has changed my life altogether. While training on the bars I fell and shattered both my elbows, I was rushed to the hospital and the doctor told me that I needed surgery to reconstruct my elbows. Then he told me that I would never be able to do gymnastics again and that this injury was practically career ending. It was a hard blow to me, I mean how could something so small, just come in and completely destroy my dream? I was put in two full arm casts, and for eight weeks I was completely useless and depressed. I felt trapped. I saw no future. All my life I knew what I wanted to do and then I couldn’t get where I wanted to be EVER. I had no hope. Slowly I regained my strength and started to look at other sports that I could try, but I was still angry and confused, my dream was gone, just thrown in the dustbin like a piece of scrap. I know that many of us have faced many difficulties and obstacles while trying to dream, and it’s hard sometimes to just humble yourself and let God take over and lead you.  Sometimes we forget to be thankful for what we do have and we focus too much on what we don’t have. I had to learn that and I’m still learning today.

I recovered from my fall and I started to do normal things with my arms again. I started dancing and just enjoying life. Life is like a river, you can either look downstream and see all the gifts flowing past you or you can turn around and look at the gifts that are flowing towards you. On 29 June I was swinging on our swing and it snapped. I fell and broke my fibula in my left ankle. I screamed and my mom came running out and we took another speedy drive to the hospital, yet on the way to the hospital, I felt such peace. It was amazing! I was aware of what just happened but I was so thankful for everything. Even with a broken foot, that was probably one of the best drives I have ever taken, because I had a hope. I knew that God would take care of me and that no matter what he would be with me every step of the way. Pain is real but so is Hope.  We arrived at the hospital and the doctor told me that I needed a plate put into my leg so that meant surgery the next day. I was obviously a bit disappointed but I knew that I was going to be OK.

Maya Angelou said: “God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest of moments – can see a possibility of hope.”

So don’t let anger, depression, and disappointment take away your hope, but rather look at what has been given to you and be grateful for it. Perhaps my dream for the Olympics was actually too small and God has something which is bigger. I look forward to the future to discover the unseen possibilities of different and more significant dreams. I think that my dream will be bigger because it will include helping others.”

We do indeed serve a God of Hope and it is He who gives us Hope in the most difficult times. As it says in Ephesians 1:18-19: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

May you have a Blessed Christmas filled with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love enabling you to Dream Big in God.