But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2 (NIV)

At eight years old, all I wanted for Christmas was a boy’s BMX bike. I was very detailed in my request, and I was sure that everyone involved was aware of my desire for this bike. My big sister, on the other hand, wanted a very girly ten-speed bike. On Christmas Eve, I lay in my bed with unbridled expectation, picturing myself riding through the neighborhood—the envy of all my friends. After a few hours of restlessness, I sprang to my feet to see what awaited me in the living room. My sister was already old enough that she cared more about sleeping than seeing what Santa had left, so I ventured out alone.

With the lights from the tree to guide me, I saw two bicycles. One was a boy’s BMX bike and the other a girly ten-speed. But hold on a minute, something had gone terribly wrong! The boy’s bike was clearly intended for my big sister and the smaller, girly bike for me. I started to panic but convinced myself that everything would be fine after I informed my parents of this unfortunate misunderstanding. That morning, my sister had no complaints as she saw her intended bike was clearly cooler than mine. Even though I was heartbroken, I saw the smiles on Christmas morning from Mom and Dad, and I said nothing. I ended up riding the bike, pastel stripes and all, for over two years.

My disappointment for something I had hoped for with all my heart was tortuous. My mind had been fixed upon the ideal gift that I myself had concocted. I had put all my hope in one thing, and it had let me down.

Webster’s Dictionary defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation.” What do you desire with anticipation this Christmas? It may be something material, but often times we simply want everything to run exactly as we had planned. Jumping from one destination to the next, we hold different expectations for each. When those expectations aren’t met, things can start to fall apart. We feel disappointed, overwhelmed, and before we know it, Christmas has come and gone, and we have missed the real reason for this holy day.

Thankfully, the solution to dealing with our disappointment is one that will never let us down. It sets our eyes on the ultimate expectation. In Micah, God reveals that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem and “will be their peace.” (v.5) The Israelites were only able to anticipate the birth of the Messiah, but as Christians, we get to celebrate this blessed event. God gave us the greatest gift of hope when His son was born . . . what more could we possibly need?

Lord, let the hope of Christ be the only desire I have this Christmas. Help me to keep my focus on You so that no expectation goes unmet.

Are your hopes in line with what God would intend for you this Christmas? During this season, in what areas do you struggle with keeping your hopes on Christ?