By Marissa Postell
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
The French poet Placide Cappeau composed “O Holy Night” more than 175 years ago, and the world is still weary today. The world is weary from challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The world is weary from loss. The world is weary from natural disasters and broken families and failed plans. The world is weary from the effects of sin in this life.
According to a study from Lifeway Research, when asked which feeling they seek to avoid the most, four in 10 U.S. adults (41%) say fear. Fewer say shame (24%) or guilt (22%). The world is weary of feeling shame and guilt, and the world is definitely weary of feeling fear—especially in the midst of the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years.The world is weary of feeling shame and guilt, and the world is definitely weary of feeling fear—especially in the midst of the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years. — @MarissaPostell Click To Tweet
And as the world carries the weariness of this season, everyone is looking somewhere for hope. Everyone is searching for light in the darkness. Everyone is looking for a reason to rejoice, an opportunity to lay aside the weariness.
In 2020, U.S. adults said their top source of hope was the kindness people have shown (40%), relationships (38%), their religious faith (36%), and stable finances (33%). Fewer Americans drew hope from the knowledge of scientists and experts (19%), recreation or fun (17%), new opportunities (14%), their work (13%), or research they’ve done themselves (10%). One in 20 Americans say none of these (5%) or they’re not sure (5%).
Around one in 14 U.S. adults (7%) say they didn’t have any source of hope during the problems they faced in 2020.Around one in 14 U.S. adults (7%) say they didn't have any source of hope during the problems they faced in 2020, according to Lifeway Research. Click To Tweet
Perhaps this Christmas season you find yourself feeling depleted in ways you had never experienced before, and yet there is still the thrill of hope that was born on that holy night over 2,000 years ago.
The weary world
I don’t often associate the words “weariness” and “rejoicing.” We’re often weary because we don’t see anything to rejoice over. And in our weariness, we, quite frankly, may not feel like rejoicing. Perhaps that’s why these two words feel so powerful when they come together in this line of “O Holy Night.” Because it can seem strange for weary people to rejoice, the words invite us to search for what sparks this rejoicing. And what is this thrill of hope? The Christ child who was born into a weary world to bring hope much unlike any hope that we could experience in anything else.On that holy night, there was a thrill of hope despite the world’s weariness. And when this thrill of hope came, the world rejoiced despite its weariness. — @MarissaPostell Click To Tweet
The Christ child was born into a weary world—not a perfect, satisfied, or content world. God wasn’t waiting for the world to get over its weariness before He offered a thrill of hope because the world wouldn’t be able to get over its weariness without the thrill of hope He offered. On that holy night, there was a thrill of hope despite the world’s weariness. And when this thrill of hope came, the world rejoiced despite its weariness.
A thrill of hope
It’s that same thrill of hope that gives us, in the weary world today, reason to rejoice. Ultimately, we have hope, not because people are kind or because our friends and family encourage us or because we feel financially stable. The thrill of hope that God offers in giving us His son is a hope that remains even as we experience suffering and hardship.
Yes, we feel the weariness of the world, but at the same time, we can hold to the hope that we have in Christ—the hope of a new and glorious morning. The hope that we have in Christ comes from the promise that the world won’t always be weary, that Christ will make all things new, and that all who put their faith in Him will one day experience wholeness and union with God. So our hope is not dependent on the circumstances that we experience but on the Messiah who was born.Let’s remember to rejoice this Christmas season as we recognize the thrill of hope that we have in Christ. And invite others to join in the rejoicing too. It’s OK if they are also weary this Christmas. — @MarissaPostell Click To Tweet
On the night of our dear Savior’s birth, the thrill of hope led a weary world to rejoice. Are you thrilled by the hope of Christ today? Has the weariness of the world caused you to forget the hope that we still have in Christ? Weary world, weary pastor, weary church leader, let’s remember to rejoice this Christmas season as we recognize the thrill of hope that we have in Christ. And invite others to join in the rejoicing too. It’s OK if they are also weary this Christmas.
Marissa is the managing editor for LifewayResearch.com.