If I asked a room of people to raise their hands if they were sick and tired of the year 2020, I am sure majority of the people present would raise their hands. It has been a weary year, to say the least. Many have suffered from loss of loved ones, job loss, zoom fatigue, cancelled or postponed plans and not to mention the loss of security, freedom and peace of mind. The dictionary definition for ‘weary’ is “feeling or showing extreme tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion”, synonyms for the word ‘weary’ include; tired, worn out, exhausted, fatigued … I am sure you can add your word to describe how this year has left you feeling.
When listening to my Christmas Gospel Playlist (link here), the lyrics of the popular carol – O Holy Night stood out to me.
O Holy Night!O Holy Night – Adolphe Adam translated by John Dwight
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Pay particular attention to the words “a thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices“.
The state of the world 2000 years ago when Jesus came to earth does not seem much different from the world in 2020. The prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2 unfolds five consequences of sin (wrongdoing) and what Jesus was coming to do about it. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings (news) to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;’ Isaiah 61:1. The society at that time was poor, broken-hearted, held in captivity, blind and oppressed. Likewise in the year 2020, we can say that we see; poverty, oppression, injustice, sickness, suffering and hopelessness. Despite all we have experienced this year I still have a thrill of hope. What is this thrill of hope?
To those who were around when Jesus came as a baby into the world, His coming was met with a variety of reactions. Some had not expected him to come as a babe in a manger, they thought a knight in shining armour was going to overthrow the government by a revolution. However, God’s ways are different and higher than the ways of man; he used an unexpected pregnancy to bring Hope to a weary world. The good news for you and I today is that although Jesus came, lived and died he also resurrected so He remains with us. We are told in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” To me, the title – Immanuel, has a twofold meaning in terms of His proximity and empathy. God is nearby so we can lean on and rely on Him. His nearness/presence means that we don’t have to go out of our way or go through great lengths to find Him – all we need to do is call upon Him. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. Secondly, as God the Son, came to earth to live and dwell among us he knows and understands the struggles that this world is filled with therefore He can empathise with us. Jesus is with us, to comfort, enlighten, encourage, guide, protect and defend us. This should surely give us a thrill of hope. Additionally, when Jesus was leaving earth He said the Father will send the ‘advocate’ / ‘helper’ which in Greek is the ‘paraklētos’ – this word describes someone who is called to one’s side especially to one’s aid. The Holy Spirit is available to us all to give us divine strength that enables us to undergo trials and hardships. We have a thrill of Hope because of the work of God, The Spirit.
There are several weary people in the bible so you and I are not alone, fortunately, there is also a wealth of encouragement in the scriptures. In Matthew 11:28; Jesus asks those who labour and are heavy laden to come to Him and he will give them rest. What burdens do you still hold onto today as a result of the disappointments and stressors of this year? Place these burdens in Jesus’ hands he wants to take care of them for you. Isaiah 40:29,31 tells us that: ‘God gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.’ those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. For us to receive strength from God, we have to admit that we are weak, it is okay, to admit that the year has not gone how we expected, it is okay, to be honest about our feelings, this vulnerability allows us to be filled with God’s strength. We are instructed to wait on the Lord to renew our strength meaning we actively wait and seek Him whilst He is near and with us. The text in Isaiah says our strength will be renewed, this means we already had this strength when we first came to God but this world, this year has drained it however we are given assurance that God will jumpstart us and give us fresh strength to move forward. This should give us hope for the new year ahead of us all. The result of this renewed strength is the ability to “mount up with wings like eagles” and therefore soar above the circumstances that are thrown our way. Finally, the Psalmists says; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); indeed He is a present help in trouble. In God, we have shelter, protection and Hope amid troubles.
So as a weary world, I ask you to rejoice and be glad. Considering the year we have had it may seem strange that I am asking that of you as you probably have a growing list of complaints. However rejoicing is a command we are repeatedly instructed to follow, Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. This was written by Paul whilst he was in prison yet this letter to the Philippians has a theme of having joy despite one’s circumstances. The joy Paul talks about wasn’t just based on optimism or having a positive mindset, it was more of confidence that God was in control – GODFIDENCE. Joy in the Lord. Unfortunately, I cannot promise you that the festive season and holiday traditions will fill you with joy or that when the clocks strike midnight on the 31st of December things will get better but there is still a thrill of Hope. Cling to Jesus today for in Him there is unwavering hope.
As I mentioned earlier and as stated in the lyrics above the world is filled with sin and there is so much darkness around; the pandemic and events that unfolded in the past year made things even more unbearable but that is the reality of this broken world we are in. Life on earth makes one weary but that is why we have been given this gift – Jesus who came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus’ eventual death on the cross defeated sin and the effects of sin in our world and thereby giving us hope and a better ending when we are in our final home – heaven. All this would not have been possible without the birth of Jesus; so the birth of Jesus (then) and the continual presence of Jesus (today) is a reason to have a thrill of hope.
The Undiluted Word take home-point: In a world where we are weary of injustice, weary of inequality, weary of pain & suffering, weary of constant sad & bad breaking news, weary of disappointments, weary of corruption, weary of disasters, weary of mental turmoil, weary of exploitation and to sum it all weary of the consequences of greed and the deceitful nature of mankind we have a thrill of Hope; because of Jesus we can rejoice in all circumstances. Cling tightly onto Jesus and allow him to make your heart glad as we await his second coming that will change the course of our current lives.
Seasons Greetings to you all!
If you would like me to pray for you about that thing that has made you weary or continues to wear you out feel free to send a request on this link.