Comfort and Hope This Christmas – Encouragement for Today – November 14, 2023

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Sheila WalshNovember 14, 2023

Comfort and Hope This Christmas 

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"... I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me." Hosea 14:8 (NLT) 

As I write to you, I glance over the top of my computer, and my eyes are immediately drawn to the 8-foot artificial Christmas tree in the corner of our den. It's been up since Christmas 2020.

It was a little embarrassing at first when friends came over in the middle of June and saw our tree, but I got over that because I love it. Every morning, I get up and switch on the Christmas lights. The sight makes me smile!

I think part of the initial reason we left the tree up after Christmas 2020 was that life was so hard and colorless. With countless others, I found myself struggling with depression again as we felt the impact of a global pandemic.

Then I realized that somehow the tree's sparkling lights speak of hope, reminding me of better days. But it is also much more than that. The tree reminds me daily of that moment that changed the world forever - the coming of our Savior, the moment when hope began in the middle of a lifeless world.

There is a lot of debate over the origin of the Christmas tree, but I love the account of Martin Luther. In her children's book Luther's Children Celebrate Christmas, Dorothy Haskins says that Martin Luther was walking through the woods near his house one night. Snow had fallen on the branches of the trees, and they sparkled in the moonlight. He was so taken by their quiet, brilliant beauty.

"The little trees stood there bravely, keeping green while everything else around them went dry and drab and lifeless."

So Luther cut down a tree, carried it home and decorated it with candles. According to Haskins, "He explained to his children that the tree is green in the winter like our faith in Christ. It stays fresh even in a time of trouble. Our faith in Christ stays green even in sorrow. His comfort remains even in the midst of despair."

If you think about it, the beginning of our story started with a tree. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, He told them they could eat freely from every tree except one. They were forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die.

When the serpent entered the garden, his first act was to make Adam and Eve question God: "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit ...?" (Genesis 3:1b, NLT). His second act was to call God a liar: "You won't die!" (Genesis 3:4, NLT). His third was to insinuate that God was holding out on them: "God knows that your eyes will be opened ..." (Genesis 3:5, NLT).

When Adam and Eve listened to the serpent's lies and not only picked fruit from the forbidden tree but ate the fruit, the whole earth shuddered. Everything changed. Suddenly, Adam and Eve felt shame and hid from God. In His mercy, God clothed them in the skins of animals and sent them out of the garden (Genesis 3:6-21). If they had stayed, they could have eaten the fruit from the tree of life and lived forever ... but forever broken. God loved them too much for that, and He loves you too much for that as well.

So just as our desolation came from a tree, so also our redemption came on a tree. Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, was willing to become a curse in the eyes of God and humanity to bridge the great divide between a holy God and sinners such as you and me. It's hard to take in the weight of that kind of love.

God describes Himself this way: "I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me" (Hosea 14:8). When I think of that image during the Christmas season, I'm reminded He hears our prayers and He is our constant provider.

If you feel anxious or afraid this season, remember that the evergreen mercy of God is with you. Just as those trees captivated Martin Luther's heart and brought joy to his children by candlelight, you and I can remember as we gaze upon the trees this season that God is always with us. Let's share the light of His love with those around us.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You never change. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that You hear my prayers and watch over me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


If you've been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by what Christmas has become, Sheila Walsh's new Advent devotional, The Gifts of Christmas, will refresh your faith, reactivate your wonder and restore your joy.


For biblical encouragement and hope for your journey, join Sheila at or follow along @SheilaWalsh.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of The Gifts of Christmas by Sheila Walsh. To celebrate this book, Sheila's publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, November 20, 2023.}


Psalm 119:50, "Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles" (NLT).

What's one thing you could do this week to share the hope and comfort of Christ with others?

© 2023 by Sheila Walsh. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106