Christmas can be a time of financial stress for many in the United States. We want to buy gifts for our families and make the holidays special. According to one report, 65 percent of people went over budget on Christmas and 20 percent went into debt to create the Christmas they dreamed of. Even if we are careful, most Americans have little savings and mounds of debt before even getting to Christmas. How do we find hope if we are feeling squeezed financially this season?
Hope is ultimately found in knowing and trusting the character of the Triune God. One of the core attributes of God is generosity. God created the heavens and the earth out of pure generosity and pleasure, not because He was forced or compelled to. God continually demonstrates His generosity to the barren, widow, orphan, and foreigner.
Perhaps the most generous act of God was giving up everything to become human and bring salvation to a broken world. Paul describes this generosity this way: “For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9; NIV). Now that’s a Christmas verse if I’ve ever heard one. The generosity of God turns the economics of our world upside down. Christ has lavished upon us every spiritual blessing moving us from poverty to wealth.
I remember my family’s first Christmas in San Diego where we currently serve as missionaries to college students. As we raised funds, we were continually tested to trust in the generosity of God. We literally relied on God’s generosity extended through a hundred different families and churches saying “yes.” We just reached our budget when God showed his generosity to us again and a local church in San Diego adopted our family and bought all of the Christmas gifts for our kids!
It is through remembering and living out the generosity and faithfulness of God in our lives that we can look forward with hope. We can know that the same God who has provided before has provided again. We can have hope that the same God who became poor to make us rich will continually empty Himself to provide for our every need.
Advent reminds us that Christ came and embraced our poverty — yes, even our financial stress — that we might become rich in the ways that matter most.