Weary. It was the only word I could think of to describe my heart. I consider myself a pretty strong person, and I honestly do not take for granted the blessings I have been given, but I am still weary at the end of this year. And as soon as I said the word out loud my mind began to sing … the weary world rejoices. I smiled at the spark as more of the lyrics played in my head, and the more I sang, the more I was struck by what a timely picture this vintage Christmas carol paints.
As we come to the end of 2020, the world is weary, and this is the first world-wide weariness that I have experienced in my lifetime. I have heard the stories of generations before me who have collectively grieved or suffered with the entire world, but this is the first time that the idea of a weary world has touched an exposed nerve for me personally. And so I wondered, why was the world so weary when Mary was about to give birth to her miracle?
Around the time that baby Jesus would have been born, King Herod the Great had been ruling with terror and the unyielding surveillance of his people was his weapon of fear. When he died, many saw it as their opportunity to seize power. There was unrest, division, violence, and people clamoring for control. Tensions ran high and fighting was rampant, and Mary and Joseph would have been living right in the middle of this political, social, and religious strife. Long lay the world in sin and error pining … it was a time devoid of hope, deeply hurting, and desperately longing for peace and resolution. Oh, how profoundly I can empathize with Mary and her weary world that was pining for a Savior after a year like 2020.
I’ve often considered the reality of a young, exhausted, and laboring Mary, giving birth in a stable away from her family and home. But add to that the social and political unrest of a weary world and I am left in awe of what supernatural emotional strength Mary must have possessed on the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Considering the state of the world that Mary was facing as a mother reminds me of the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack on our country. Like all of you, I recall with crystal clarity the moment the twin towers fell. I was 23 years old, and as newlyweds, my husband and I had recently been deep in consideration of when we should start our family. One of our closest friends had just announced they were pregnant. It would be the first baby in our group, but then this. Immediately, all of us who had been so excited just thinking about babies suddenly paused. Could we or should we bring kids into this broken world? The fear in our country was tangible, and in our conversations between girlfriends we honestly wondered how it would be possible to mother in a world filled with such terrorism and turmoil.
I can only imagine the thoughts in young Mary’s mind as her baby boy took his first breath on this tired and tumultuous earth, and yet the moment he arrived … a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
And just like that, in the blink of one precious and Heavenly little eye, everything changed … for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. One moment darkness covered the weary world, but all that it took for darkness to fail was the tiniest ray of light. Hope had come, and, Praise God, hope is still alive through Jesus today!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in Hope.
Hope gives us breath in our lungs when we are desperately gasping for air. Hope gives us the rising of the sun after the darkest of nights. Hope gives us the strength to stand up when the world knocks us down. Hope gives us peace in our hearts when no peace can be found. Our hope is not found in the circumstances of our day, in the leaders of our world, or in the security of our things. Hope is found in Jesus, and Jesus is found when we fall on our knees.
2020 has brought me to my knees more desperately and more often than any other time in my life. And in the hours upon hours that I spent pleading with God for stability and understanding and wisdom and peace, God held me and He comforted me and He reminded me of the Hope that I already had but completely took for granted until now. When everything is stripped away, when your foundation is shaken and tested, when it turns out that nothing on this earth is what you thought it to be, you begin to understand that the only thing that matters is where you have placed your hope. This year has shown me that an effective way to know what to hope in is for everything around us to shake in order to reveal what continues to stand. The shaking hurts, but there is so much beauty to be found in the desperation it uncovers.
When the pain is unbearable, the circumstance is unchangeable, the fear is suffocating, and the need cannot be quenched, only then are we able to experience being saved. And in being saved we experience our Savior. In the same way that Jesus was born and died to save a weary and desperate world, He comes to us today in our need to save His desperate and weary children. He has never stayed distant. He has always come close, into the midst of our desperation, into the heart of our weariness, to thrill us with hope, to bless us with peace, and to remind us that He has had a plan for us and this weary world since before he spoke it into existence. On our knees, weary and weak, pining for a Savior, He saves us. He always has, and He always will.
Because the world in 2020 is weary, I have experienced a fresh thrill of hope in the most personal way. Because Jesus came close to humanity then and He continues to draw close to me now, I am able to rest in renewed hope that transcends my circumstances. Because when my foundation shook, Jesus withstood the shaking, sustained me in the shaking, and promised me that no shaking would ever be more than I could handle, I will rejoice in 2020. This Christmas season I am more able than ever to appreciate that the darker the night, the easier it is for the tiniest of light to pierce through it. O night divine, O night when Christ was born.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. […] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:2, 9:6-7
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”