By Franklin Graham
This is a Christmas unlike any other.
Large family gatherings and office parties have been replaced with grim lockdowns, quarantines and isolation. What used to be the warmest and most welcoming time of the year can now feel sterile and cold.
It’s no wonder so many hearts are gripped by fear and anxiety right now. Study after study shows just how severe the problem has become. A national survey by universities such as Harvard and Northeastern recently found nearly half of young adults now show symptoms of depression amid the pandemic. Millions of seniors are also suffering from the devastating impacts of prolonged social isolation. Researchers have determined loneliness can be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
As people across the country try to cope with the physical and psychological effects of the coronavirus, pharmaceutical companies are on a mission, rushing to distribute a vaccine that can defeat the virus. The stakes are high and time is short, and for some, it may feel like the fate of the world is hanging in the balance.
While an effective vaccine could eventually help restore social gatherings and revive struggling businesses, it won’t fix everything. There isn’t a vaccine on earth that can protect us from worry, depression or fear. Think about it. Every day people receive vaccines for viruses like polio and measles. Even though we may become immune to those illnesses, many still suffer from problems like anxiety and hopelessness. There isn’t a shot or a pill that can cure a sick spirit.
There is only one way to find healing for deep, spiritual needs, and that’s in Jesus Christ – the hope of Christmas.
He’s the only cure for a disease of the heart that has infected all mankind – sin. It is far deadlier than the coronavirus, and it is seen all around us in pride, envy, lust, greed, anger and deceit, just to name a few. The Bible tells us we are all guilty of moral transgressions against God. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This is why that first Christmas morning matters so much. It was God’s rescue mission to save us from our sins. Since the penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God, he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to earth to redeem us.
When Christ was born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem on that first Christmas morning, true hope was born for you and me. The significance of Christ’s birth is summed up in Matthew 1:21, which says, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
This is what Christmas is all about. It’s hope for all of us who are destined to die from our sins. We can be saved!
Jesus Christ left his throne in heaven to come to this earth to live the perfect life that none of us could, and then he died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins and yours. It was an indescribable act of love and the greatest gift this world has ever seen. To receive this offer of salvation that is freely extended to you and me, we only need to confess our sins and put our faith in Christ. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God doesn’t guarantee we’ll have perfect health or financial security throughout the pandemics and storms of life, but he does promise a life filled with his peace, joy, freedom, purpose and love.
While the coronavirus may continue to change the circumstances around us, it can never change the importance of the cradle or the cross. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven and your future is secure. Only then can you know true hope, even in the midst of this uncertain world.
While everything else may lock down, isn’t it reassuring to know there is a God who never shuts down? He will never isolate or leave those who trust in him alone. His promise in John 14:27 is true for all who believe in him: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
This is the good news of Christmas. Jesus Christ changed the world on that first Christmas day and he has the power to change your life today and for all eternity. This Christmas, may you experience the joy that can only come from knowing Jesus Christ, the hope of Christmas and the hope of the world.
About the author - Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organisation. Graham also leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which has shared the hope of Jesus Christ in more than 185 countries and territories since 1950.