Hope. Our hearts yearn for it. Our souls long for it. After a couple of years of chaos, caused largely by a global pandemic, the world is desperately seeking strength, joy and hope when the surrounding world seems to be crumbling. To find that sense of happiness, some have turned to a false sense of hope… to try to fill the hole that only a relationship with Christ can fill. Where are we looking to receive the sense of “comfort and joy” that we all desperately desire? There can be only one true answer, and it was revealed thousands of years ago, found as a babe lying in a manger.
You may have heard the expression, “What a thrill!” We usually use this when we are overcome with excitement about something. The Christmas season is full of many thrills. For some it is the thrill of wondering what’s in that large package behind the tree. For others it is the thrill of finally taking a respite from busy schedules and spending time with loved ones. None of these things are bad, in and of themselves. However, have we lost our sense of awe and thrill in celebrating the birth of our Savior, even as we experience the many good things that are happening in December?
O Holy Night
Like countless of others, my favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night.” Written from the book of Luke, this song is full of references to the birth of Jesus. There is an interesting story about the man, Placide Cappeau, who penned the original lyrics in 1847. How did this man come to write one of the greatest Christmas hymns of all time? Even though Cappeau had little interest in spiritual matters, he was asked by a local priest to write a Christmas poem to be read at church. (It’s true throughout Scripture that God often uses an “unlikely” person to point others to Christ.) One theory about why this man was asked to write the poem, later turned into song, is that the priest who asked him to write was hoping to encourage him to study the scriptures and truly come to know Jesus on a personal level. Whatever the intent, this song has transcended the test of time and is now heard all over the world, in both churches and secular arenas. Though full of many wonderful lyrics, one line has always stood out to me above all of the others: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
Come to Me
I think it is safe to argue that the world is weary today, just as it was 200 years ago when this song was penned. Back then there was weariness over wars and economic problems. Today there is increasing weariness with much of it surrounding sickness and civil unrest. However, friend, we don’t have to be hopeless no matter what we are facing in life. Jesus later declares in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Though we may have been beaten down lately, faced hardships and trials of many kinds, we can run to the One who desires to carry our burdens for us. With God on our side, we are never “down and out.” We never have to fight our own battles, relying on our own strength. We have Christ on our side, who has overcome the world! THAT is the thrill of hope!
Romans 15:13 declares, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The good news of Christmas is that no matter what we have encountered this year, we have a Savior who came to give us new life. He was born to die for us. We have a Savior who has come down to us and understands what we are facing in this oftentimes difficult life. He stood in our place, took on the sins that we deserved, and said “I love you, and I forgive you.” What a thrill!
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