This week, one of my favorite times of the year begins: Advent. The first candle of advent is the candle of hope. Hope is one of my favorite themes of Christmas...and the following lyric from "O Holy Night" is one of my favorites:
"A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices."
"The Weary World"
The words have always resonated with me - possibly because I, like every other human, have known what it's like to be weary....exhausted from daily reality; tired from the emotion it takes to deal with pain, longing, heartache, frustration, disappointment; worn out from temptation and sin and my attempt to overcome my own flaws.
Waiting is one of the worst kinds of weariness-- trying to hold on to faith when the daily routine points to no coming changes at all. Waiting for a spouse, waiting for a job opportunity, waiting to make new friends, waiting to have a baby, waiting for defiant kids to come to their Savior, waiting for children to sleep through the night, waiting for relief to pain or grief.
Yes, I understand weariness and exhaustion and disappointment....and waiting.
I relate to this lyric because it refers to those that are weary, but I LOVE this lyric because it refers to the "thrill of hope" a weary world rejoices in! I know weariness, but thank you Jesus, I also know hope.
"A Thrill of Hope"
Hope encourages, even "earthly" hopes encourages. Hope grants reprieve from weariness, even if it doesn't end it completely. Small hopes give us moments of joy and renewed faith during long exhausting spells of waiting, pain or disappointment.
These small hopes can be being asked on a date after several months of no interest, a couple nights where your baby sleeps through the night, a girls night out where you laugh so hard you forget your problem, a medicine that seems to bring more comfort to chronic pain, an interview after months of job searching, a happy peaceful date night for a couple who has been struggling, an encouraging sweet letter or email from a friend, etc.
We've all had times when some small event gave us hope during a tough time. Small hopes may not bring an end to weariness, but they do encourage us to keep going amidst the weariness. That date might not be "the one" or the interview might not lead to a job, but the small thrill of hope encourages you to press on in belief that better times are ahead.
If these small earthly hopes grant us moments of respite, how much more so can our Savior provide his weary followers with a "thrill of hope"?
When Christ was born, the battle was not won yet. There had not been a death, resurrection or second coming. His birth was only the beginning and did not yet take away the weariness and pain of the world. BUT, His coming provided hope of what was to come, a glimmer of anticipation for good things ahead.
The battle is still not won. We still live in a world that quite frankly, wears me out sometimes. We still have to deal with sin, pain, illness, death, heartache. But Christmas serves as a yearly reminder of His first advent and more permanently, His future second advent! It is an annual "thrill of hope" for this weary world...encouraging us to press on amidst weariness and pain.
So, take it all in -- the carols, the lights, the gatherings, but most importantly the gospel truth -- and be encouraged and hopeful that our Lord loved this weary world so much that He came down to us to live, die, rise and return.
The next line of the song states,
"For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!"
You may be weary now...and you may remain weary for awhile, but be encouraged and HOPEFUL, better days are ahead! Because of the first and second advents of our Savior, there will be a new and glorious morn!