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.

“I lost £25 but not myself” 

Hello, as some of you may already know I started University 4 weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to finish this post since my first week here, but something kept stopping me but I am determined to finish it and finally be able to post it- so here it is. This post is written in reflection of my time so far and in particular my first week. It is primarily for those that have already started Uni or are starting in the near future. However there is still something to gain for those that may or may not be in education.

Firstly, let me give you the background story to the title of this post. So for freshers week( introductory week for the first years at the start of Uni), we were told to buy £25 wristbands so that we had access to all the events that were being thrown. At my Uni (University of East Anglia) these events included; going to clubs, fancy dress events, ABC (Anything But Clothes) event, being paired up with older years for family night, tours, sports night, film & pizza night and finally concluding with a Freshers Ball. I left early from the first event which consisted of going to 3 bars/ clubs – I have now become acquainted with the term bar crawling to describe that event. (Bar Crawl-When individuals go from bar to bar in a small vicinity. Usually they drink so much at the first few bars that by the time they get to the last one they’re crawling from drunkenness.)

IMG_5551

The infamous Wristband

To cut the long story short, I missed 5 of the events. At first I would have liked the idea of going to the freshers ball seeing as most of the other Medical students were thinking that I was an antisocial human being; but I eventually decided against it as it was on a Friday night and I would be breaking the Sabbath. Seeing as I didn’t go to majority of the events, I am annoyed because I did lose that £25. However I am glad because I didn’t lose myself in the sense of compromising my principles just because I felt like I would be losing money or being given negative labels.

Now one important thing to know before reading any further is that I don’t intend to criticize those who enjoy clubbing or drinking alcohol but I do want to stress the importance of not conforming and compromising previous principles and standards. Yes, finally one is at Uni and we are suddenly thrown into a world of freedom; no more having to check in and out with parents. Starting at a new place can lead people down different paths, some that were or were not intended. We meet new people that have different upbringings, lifestyles and interests to what we have. It can be very easy for a person to get lost amongst it all and  begin to compromise previous convictions & principles in order to have pleasure, power or popularity.

Let us look at the story of Joseph. Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife “day after day” but “refused to go to bed with her or even be with her” (Genesis 39:10). Doug Bachelor once said : When you are being tempted by someone or something to compromise your convictions, steer as far away as you can from the edge of the evil.  In order for a person to abide by their principles it is important to stay away from temptation. Earlier on in Genesis, you can tell that Eve wandered too close to the forbidden tree then waited to hear Satan’s rationalizations. Immediately when she saw the tree and heard the serpent question God’s truth, she should have ran for cover. In 1st Timothy 6:11, we are warned to “flee from temptation and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Sometimes we may be told by those close to us to strike a “balance”. However often times the balance causes us to conform our christian standards to worldly values.  You can’t balance holiness with a little sin. Being Christ-like is not out of balance.

The Cache River has a total length of 180 miles. However it only covers a distance of 35 miles, it wastes 140 miles to bends and turns. Now the reason a river becomes crooked is because it follows the path were there is least resistance, this can be likened to the reason why a Christian becomes crooked. The path of a Christian should be more like a tight rope than a meandering trail. What Moses told the children of Israel before he died can still be applied to us all today; “Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)

Now we may be naive and think that it’s only outsiders that cause us to compromise Christian principles and convictions, however the devil mainly works through those closest to us.  Therefore we should all learn to say “Get thee behind me, Satan. I ain’t gonna do it”. 

When you study the events surrounding the trial of Jesus Christ, we can see that compromise ultimately crucified Him. Pontius Pilate admitted that Jesus was an innocent man, however he didn’t make a stand for the truth because he wanted to win approval from the crowd. Are you compromising your convictions to win approval from the crowd? Pilate went as far as to give the people a choice to just beat Jesus and then release Him. However, it is important to know that once you embark down the road of compromise no matter where you stop, the devil will pick you up and complete the walk on your behalf. This is because you have signaled your weakness by displaying a willingness to negotiate with wrong. So, once you begin to sacrifice your convictions, it is very easy to slide into ruin.

As a person continues to compromise their conscience becomes numb, until it becomes the fruit of conformity with the world. If we as Christians begin to compromise now in the little things without a death threat, how are we going to cope when we are threatened with imprisonment and death. The bible states numerous of times : STAND! “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today”- Exo 14:13. How are we expected to stand in a world that seems to be against our beliefs and convictions, the answer lies in Ephesians 6:11-13.

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

A congressman named William  Jennings Bryan said:

“Never be afraid to stand with a minority that is right for the minority will someday be the majority. Always be afraid to stand with the majority that is wrong, for the majority that is someday wrong will someday be the minority.”

Please re-read that quote just so that you can grasp its meaning. With God all things are possible!- Yes that includes living life without worldly conformity and compromise. Be determined to stand on the Rock and resist the waves of compromise that are sweeping God’s children from the shores of salvation. Please listen to the song below entitled Stand by Tye Tribett.

Dear Reader, always remember that when you stand for God , you do not stand alone: Jesus stands with you. So whenever you are faced with a decision that is contrary to your convictions, stand for Jesus! You shall be rewarded, maybe not immediately or on earth but surely in the long run.

Stay Blessed,

Dara x

P.S- This post was mainly inspired by Doug Batchelor’s ebook : Compromise, Conformity and Courage. (http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/19/t/compromise-conformity-and-courage)