The weary world rejoices

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!
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!

O Holy Night – Adolphe Adam translated by John Dwight

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.

Stay Blessed,

Dara

In a world where we are weary of injustice, inequality, pain & suffering, corruption, disasters, mental turmoil, exploitation and to sum it all up – weary of the deceitful and fallen nature of mankind we have a thrill of Hope; in Jesus we can always rejoice.

November 2020

Not only do the skies look bleak during these winter months, it feels as though darkness, despair and doubt cover our minds, hearts and lives at this time. It’s no surprise that we are living in strange & difficult times and it’s easy to question: Where is God? Does He care? Oh Yes, He cares, Yes he sees and No, he has not left. Make this declaration: My gloomy nights will clear up; Joy will come in the morning. God’s light will shine brighter than ever; He will dry my tears from the stressors and worries of this year. In these seasons of drought, I shall be like a tree planted along a riverbed – unbothered by the struggles and trials because I have entrusted my uncertainties and unknown future to a known God who has never lost control.

Have a reNewed November!

Dara

October 2020

A clear pattern amongst bible characters is that they experienced hardships, difficulties, struggles and obstacles before they eventually reached their desired destination. Likewise, we experience seasons which may break or throw us off our course, however, God uses such seasons to our advantage. God uses our brokenness as a precursor to the filling. Despite how broken or exhausted, you may be feeling make this declaration: My filling season is approaching. God will fill me with the very best He has for my life. God will satisfy my physical, emotional, spiritual hunger & thirst. I will be filled with complete joy, peace & hope! My cup will overflow; I shall lack no good thing.

Have an October that overflows with blessings!

Dara x

September 2020

Too often we allow many things happening around us to take up our central vision. As a result we are unable to see what’s in front of us such as God’s providence, love and faithfulness. When we place our cares and concerns first we push God to the periphery; thus inviting fear, doubt, despair and anxiety. In this month, Don’t let your problems eclipse God. Let God eclipse your problems.

Have a Centrally-focussed September!
Dara

August 2020

Throughout scripture there is a reoccurring concept: “the Lord your God is with you”, “I am with you”, “it is the Lord your God who goes with you”, “He is in your midst”, “I will never leave you” etc. Sometimes we think our consolation is in a change of circumstances but, God wants to console us right in the thick of our difficult times. Instead of demanding an escape route, become aware of God’s presence which is impregnated with abundant joy.

Have an Awesome August!

Dara

July 2020

July: arguably the best month has arrived, yet I’m still mentally in pre-COVID March. You may or may not feel the same, but I urge you to switch your mentality. God is in the business of turning your disappointments to divine appointments; Your hurt into hope; Your anger into abiding peace. Open your eyes and perceive the new thing God is doing. Don’t remain stuck in the past or in the old way of doing things – this places God in a box and He cannot be confined by our human wisdom & comprehension. So delight yourself in the Lord and He shall surely give you the desires of your heart. God can still redeem that which you “thought” you lost.

Have a Jubilant July!
Dara

June 2020

Unbelievable to think we are already in June. It is natural to feel emotionally depleted after the whirlwind of events we constantly face but don’t be disheartened. Jesus said “In this world you’ll have trouble but take courage: I have overcome the world.” So, I urge you to lay ALL your burdens down at Jesus’ feet so He can fill you up with His perfect peace. Hold onto the promise that God heals the broken-hearted & binds up their wounds. My prayer is that in this crooked world we will shine bright & not let the darkness steal our joy & hope.

May 2020

Although we are living in uncertain times there is one thing we can be sure of – God remains faithful. In this month, make God your focal point. If we gaze too much on our current circumstances we become dizzy & feel sick, so divert your attention from the noise of the world (news & the like) and tune into the Living Word of God that states “And it came to Pass”. Our struggles, pain, worries and concerns haven’t come to stay but to build our character. God is not a man that He should lie so saturate your mind with scripture & good report.

Have a Mindful May!

Dara x

April 2020

You wake up on this April Fool’s Day to find out Corona Virus isn’t a prank after all 😭 tragic. We are in this world as a ship at sea and the circumstances around us make us prone to be tossed around so without an anchor shipwreck is imminent. But I’d like to ask: Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? Where have you placed your Hope? Hope is the anchor for our lives so it’s essential we place it in a force that is strong & steady – The Rock of Ages. There is no reason to be downcast, worried or defeated when your Hope is in God. Place your hope & confidence in God’s Word and your strength will be renewed.

Have a well Anchored April! x

The Pursuit Of Toilet Paper

People pursue several things in life; pursue materialistic things such as possessions, some pursue friendships & relationships, some pursue goals & achievements and others pursue things that a value can’t be placed on. The list is endless but the overall gist is that we are all in pursuit of something; but whether that pursuit is worthwhile or realistic is another question.

I have always wanted to share my thoughts on what I consider are worthwhile pursuits and it seems appropriate to discuss it now. It will not be a surprise to you that people across the UK and perhaps globally are in pursuit of toilet paper because of the current pandemic: COVID-19. Yes, the virus is spreading quickly but FEAR is spreading even more rapidly leading to some irrational pursuits of materialistic things such as tissue paper. I’ve heard people ask – why are people buying tissue paper?, and honestly, I cannot think of a specific reason to explain why the aisles are empty and people are fighting over toilet roll. At the end of the day it all boils down to fear, fear causes us to do irrational things and as I like to say “move mad unprovoked.” I would like to challenge us all to pursue PEACE in times of panic and chaos so this an appropriate time to discuss this.

Here are some definitions of the word pursuit:

an activity that you spend time and energy doing

an attempt to achieve something

the act of trying to achieve a plan, activity, or situation, usually over a long period

I would like to add that the pursuit is an intentional task in which you have to be willing to put in the required effort where necessary. To be in pursuit of something worthwhile a person has to remain focussed on that goal. Chris Gardner who is known for the inspiration of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness said: If you want something go get it. PERIOD.

The Hebrew word for “peace” which you may already be familiar with is “shalom”. Shalom – is a condition where there is freedom from disturbance: outwardly and inwardly. It also means safety, wellbeing, happy, friendly, healthy, prosperity and favour. In the New Testament, we are introduced to the Greek word for peace which is “irane”; it can mean peace, prosperity, one, quietness, rest, to set at one again and to restore. Isn’t the concept of peace a great thing? I am sure you will agree that it is and therefore is a worthwhile pursuit.

The devil deceives us into believing that various things in this world can give us the peace we desire, these include finances, relationships, social acceptance, achievements – however, they are all counterfeits of the peace which can only be found in God. I experience peace when I distract myself from the realities of life and deliberately ignore responsibilities however this sense of peace is temporary and before I know it I am back in a spiral of confusion, fear and panic. We are told in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ‘ the peace that God gives can’t be compared to that of the World. Life can be so unpredictable as we can tell from the COVID-19 pandemic; all that once provided safety and peace is now under attack -this is why we should not get complacent with a false sense of peace. As Christians and people of faith, we are to pursue real peace – God’s peace which surpasses human understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

Steps to Pursuing Peace

  1. MAKE ROOM
    • The enemies of peace are fear, anxiety, greed, ambition, anger, envy, pride. These compete for our inner peace. We can’t have the peace God promises if we are holding onto these traits. Therefore we need to take the necessary steps to remove & manage these elements in our lives.
    • “The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” – Peace Pilgrim
  2. GET TO KNOW GOD
    • Eliminating negative forces will only provide temporary peace. Eventually, some other crisis or issue may arise which threatens your “world” and once again you are in a limbo between peace and worry. True peace must be something more.
    • Martin Luther said “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force. It is rather the presence of some positive force.” This positive force is God.
    • A popular saying goes like this: NO GOD NO PEACE. KNOW GOD KNOW PEACE. Job 22:21 says, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” How do we get to know God? Simply by spending time with Him and in His Word.
    • Now that we’ve been advised to #stayathome we have less busy schedules and whilst it’s easy to squander this time on social media apps (I’m guilty of scrolling endlessly on insta & creating TIKTOK videos), we should be intentional about spending quality time with our creator the positive force that can grant us peace.
    • One important fact to remember amidst the storms of life is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Regardless of how much or how long the sea rages when God deems necessary it shall be still on His command. God allows all that happens to us to occur to fulfil His perfect plan and purpose. Even though the facts about a situation creates turmoil the unchanging truth about God’s nature and character creates peace.
  3. ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
    • I am sure it’s not a surprise that this is on the list as you all know how I feel about positivity – Negative energy genuinely repulses me.
    • It is easy to get agitated and focus on the negatives. Let’s use Coronavirus as an example; every day the news is filled with negativity. Newscasters are constantly reporting the number of cases and deaths – what about those that are surviving, recovering? What about the initiatives and new technologies that are being discovered? I’ve had to leave the living room whenever the news is on simply because there is nothing positive and it just aids and fuels more fear & anxiety – enemies of peace. Similarly, we have to physically and mentally remove ourselves from a space of negativity to fix our minds on positive things – that way inner peace can flourish.
    • As Christians, we are commanded to not be conformed to this world (its fears & anxieties) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You can determine how you think in any given situation. Chose to refocus your mind to a new topic instead of dwelling on that which will steal your peace. Chose to trust God and He will help you. By guarding your mind you guard your peace thus inner peace will be yours.
    • Isaiah 26:3 says; [God] will keep in perfect peace, those whose mind is stayed on you Because they trust in you”
      • In Hebrew “perfect peace” = shalom shalom. The repetition highlights how profound this promise is.
      • The message version reads: People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole.
      • Here we see the importance of the mind: When we keep our minds settled on God, He will give us peace in return. God will guard us against the devil’s attacks of distress.
      • What your mind is stayed on communicates what you trust in. If you truly trust God your mind should stay firmly fixed on Him and Him alone.
  4. BE STILL
    • As I mentioned earlier the pursuit is an activity so “being still” seems contradictory however being ‘still’ allows us to truly sense God’s presence.
    • Whilst being “still” we can read and meditate on the promises God is communicating to us; that way we can be assured that God’s peace will infiltrate all areas of our lives.
    • The presence of God is not the absence of trouble. He is a very present help IN time of trouble. Despite the raging storms, I pray that you have the overwhelming assurance that reminds you: God is your only shelter.
  5. BE OBEDIENT & WALK IN GOD’S WILL
    • Psalm 119:165 says; Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
    • If God reveals light to you, walk in it and do not insist on doing your own thing. This is illustrated in this favourite passage of mine: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22-25
    • At the start of this year, I felt very uneasy, as though my heart and mind were battling each other. Choices and decisions I knew I had to make due to the light God had shown me in His Word but I was trying to do my own thing. I did not get the peace of mind I desired until I decided to stop being stubborn and align myself with God’s Will and Word.
    • Whenever we feel a sense of unrest we should ask and search whether we are doing something that isn’t in harmony with God’s Will? When we seek the answers to that question we find explanations for the discord within our soul.
  6. BE A PEACEMAKER
    • The same way you gain happiness and love by giving it away is the same way we retain peace. We ought to be peacemakers; when we spread peace we receive peace. This follows the simple principle of reaping what we sow; if we sow strife and discord we will surely reap the results which are enemies of peace.
    • One of the ways we can best advertise Christ and showcase our lives as Christians is to emulate peace. Be that light in a world filled with darkness, chaos, fear and anxiety.
    • I urge you all to communicate God to an anxious world, even though there are a lot of reasons to fret choose peace!
    • This time at home should be used to reconcile relationships and live with peace with others (especially family members we are having to spend more time with during the Lockdown)

Let me close with another all-time favourite memory text from Philippians 4:6-7; Be anxious for nothing but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

You may or may not have enough tissue paper in your homes but I urge you to follow the steps discussed above in pursuing peace and most of all pray that the Lord Himself will grant you peace because He is the source of true peace.

Stay Blessed, safe and at home!

Dara

 

References:

Finding the missing peace by Doug Batchelor