As we said goodbye to 2020, most of us were looking at a holiday season that was darker and lonelier than usual, without many of the comforts and joys we’ve come to associate with the celebratio­n of the birth of Christ.

There was also terrible uncertaint­y regarding the future.

What a year this has been! At the time of writing this, while it’s impossible to predict the course of the Covid-19 pandemic and new variants, there are encouragin­g signs and we can look forward to the time when the world will have overcome the worst effects of this virus.

At the same time, we can’t help but feel pain for the families and friends of all those who perished this year, many of whom were denied the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones or to properly dispose of their remains. The world’s inequaliti­es were again laid bare, as the deaths and financial hardships were concentrat­ed in those nations, cities, and neighborho­ods that were the least prepared to deal with them, and the economic recovery, while welcome, is proving to be just as unequal.

It has been an exceedingl­y tough year for so many, and as it draws to a close, perhaps you may be asking the age-old question: If God is allpowerfu­l and truly loves us, as the Bible says, why doesn’t He do something to relieve the pain and suffering that so many are experienci­ng?

He did. He sent Jesus.

God feels our pain. He understand­s our struggles and sympathize­s with our losses. He longs to draw us close, to soothe, to heal, to comfort, to reassure. He wanted so badly to help us that He sent His Son in human form to live among us, to experience our hardships, to reveal His heart, and to put us in direct, personal contact with His love and power. He came to us as a helpless, innocent baby in a manger, not to remove our problems, but to equip us to get through them and become better for them.

And that is why we have reason to hope this Christmas.

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