Amid the great sorrows and undeserved suffering recorded in the Bible (see, for example, Hebrews 11:36-38), the God of Abraham promised His children a deliverer, a savior, whose name would “be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Of course, it was kind of God to promise relief to His struggling children—but He did not just offer encouraging words. God kept His word and sent His Son. During the Christmas season, we celebrate the arrival of the promised Savior.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus stood in a Nazarene synagogue and read from a prophecy—a promise—made by God through Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18)
Jesus then sat down and declared, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21), announcing that the Savior had come and that, with His arrival, promised deliverance, relief, and salvation were close at hand. Indeed, throughout His ministry, Jesus relieved the suffering, liberated the captive, preached the gospel, and healed the brokenhearted, fulfilling the many promises which God had made centuries before. Ultimately, Jesus gave His life at Golgotha and then rose from the tomb, liberating all from the despair of death, a triumph that Paul celebrated when he exclaimed, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55). Surely, where God promised a Savior, He also provided one, showing His people in every age that He keeps His promises and provides for His children.
Of course, the coming of a Savior doesn’t mean that we live in a world without adversity or suffering. At times, we may cry out, like John A. Widtsoe, “How long, O Lord most holy and true, / Shall shadowed hope our joy delay?” (Hymns, No.126). Perhaps because of a spoiled relationship, a lost job, a chronic illness, a lost loved one, or a persistent character flaw, we may find ourselves wondering how a loving God could ever have allowed us to fall into misfortune. However, we can find comfort and courage in the still-binding promises that God has made to us through His Son: “I will not leave you comfortless” (John 14:18); “[B]ecause I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19); “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3); “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Around two thousand years ago, the promised Savior was born. That Savior came because God knew that we would be living in a challenging, adverse world. He knew that injustices would arise, that we’d hold ourselves back by our own weaknesses, and that sickness, sadness, and death would surround us during our lifetimes. But He also knew that He wanted us, His beloved children, to live with Him throughout the eternities, so He promised us a way to overcome the world, a Savior to lift us above the trials of mortality and to carry us to our heavenly home—and He has honored that promise. Jesus Christ is the promised Savior, the One through whom our Heavenly Father will keep all His promises. This Christmas, let us rejoice in the knowledge that God sent His Son, our loving Savior, and let us celebrate too the many inspiring promises He has made to us and that we know He will surely keep. Because we know that God is a keeper of promises, we can let go of our fears and uncertainty and, instead, go forward in faith, confident that His marvelous promises will all be fulfilled.