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Hope afterall

by Rachel Iliadis  |  December 21, 2012  |  Category: Stories  |  Tags: 2012, christmas, hope

Oh, Christmas. My favorite time of the year. There's just something magical about it all. It seems as if the glittering lights, homemade sugar cookies, and nostalgic carols bring out the best in people. It's a season of generosity and hope for the days to come. But for some reason, this year feels different.

From across the room, the sparkling tree catches my attention. My eyes gaze into the beauty of the tree, which has become a reminder of family tradition and deep gratitude. But as my eyes travel up the tree, appreciating each individual ornament, they quickly grind to a halt. The star stares back at me, as if it's looking directly into my heart. My mind drifts to the reality of the world, and my heart begins to sink. I'm reminded that, for many, Christmastime doesn't bring such fond memories. 

With a looming financial crisis, the aftermath of a horrific elementary school tragedy, and the Mayan Calendar's "end of the world," peace on earth and goodwill towards men seems like a cliché afterthought. The typical hope of the season seems overshadowed with the reality of the latest CNN headlines.

Christmastime is supposed to be full of peace and joy, but for many, it's a time of fear and remembrance of those lost. A reminder of the deepest pain a soul can know – the loss of loved ones. Children. 

Try as we may to find happiness and fulfillment in the parties and presents, the glitter and tinsel of the Holidays isn't enough. It doesn't heal. The scars are still very present. We are in need of comfort. Desperate for healing. 

We must turn our attention away from the dismay of the media and to the truth of the gospel. It's here that we find a reason to hope. A reason for joy. 

Through the voice of an angel, we find what we've been searching for ... everlasting hope. A glimmer of comfort in a dark, pain-filled world. Good has come to overcome evil. I hear the cry of an infant in the distant. 

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10

Good tidings of unspeakable joy. The answer to a dying world is in a tiny babe. He has made a way for us. In the way of a baby that would become a King. 

It's through God's ultimate gift that would result in the salvation for all mankind. If we would only believe. 

As prophecied thousands of years earlier, "the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him ... He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." – Isaiah 40:10

God's speaks tenderly to His people. He speaks words of comfort and healing over them. A proclaimation of hope! 

It's in this moment that God speaks to me. Rachel, this is what it it's all about. My presence. The Hope of Glory. 

My heart leaps. Tears form in my eyes. Thousands of years ago, God knew what would happen at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The vision of an all-knowing and all-powerful God tenderly holding "those that have young close to His heart" is breathtaking. And He wasn't content with sitting back and doing nothing about it. Years ago, He chose redemption. It's His plan to make all things new and right.

The God that formed the earth and all that is in it, holds His people tenderly. Those parents who find themselves with Christmas presents that will not be opened, He holds them closely. 

I remember the words of writer Ann Voskamp ...

"When you know this kind of love, what can you fear losing? 

He’s as calm as a man walking on water. 

He hears us. He loves us. He has us. So whatever happens, He’s good and we’re good.  

Somedays just laying our head in His hands is the way we lay the burdens down. The scars on His hands were made to be the perfect ditches for our tears.

When your prayers look right into the face of Christ – every hopeless end turns into an endless hope." 

Every hopeless end turn into an endless hope. It was in this moment that I was reminded that no matter what the present hardships are, we have every reason to rejoice. We can rest in the hope that our Savior has come. He is near and present. The ultimate and only true reason for our hearts to celebrate on Christmas day. 

"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak ... Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." – Isaiah 40

Rachel Moye Iliadis serves as the Communications Specialist at NCF. She lives in Atlanta and loves sharing the joy and hope found in living generously.


Painting by Hannah Joiner. Originally seen on

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You are so talented Rachel and I love your huge, overflowing heart for Jesus! I am always inspired by you. Thank you for all you do and we are so blessed to have you on our team at NCF! :)
Stefany Sargent
December 27, 2012 - 03:35:41 PM
Rachel, your words are poignant and real. I love Hannah Joiner's painting of the Sandy Hook children entering heaven. Here are the words of poem by Robert Haines that also says, so much:

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
thier smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
...they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing ...of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."
David Wills
December 25, 2012 - 07:02:55 PM
Thanks for sharing your heart!
Kim Cooper
December 24, 2012 - 10:52:55 PM
Well written. Real. Honest. :) thanks for sharing, Rachel.
Genevieve Simpson
December 22, 2012 - 01:21:57 PM
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