The Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices

Written by Brandy Wallis

Society starts inundating Christmas commercials down our throats before we even have a
chance to eat the last Reese’s cup we stole from our kids’ stash of Halloween candy. Every store you walk into after August looks as if Christmas décor has exploded and has gift displays on every aisle. And don’t even get me started on the Christmas carols blaring in anticipation of ushering us into holiday cheer!

Speaking of Christmas carols, I love a good Christmas carol. What about you? One of my most favorites of all time is “Oh Holy Night.” Do you know the one I’m talking about? It begins with, “O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth”. (Shameless plug: if you’ve never heard Abby Payne’s version from the Revival Worship album, do yourself a favor and download it now)

How many times throughout the Christmas season have you sung this song? Even now, it’s
probably stuck in your head, isn’t it? You are welcome, lol. Every year when I hear this song, as the holiday season begins, I am reminded of the true simplicity and magnitude of Christmas for believers!

We know that Christmas isn’t about the presents, decorations, the trees, lights, or the massive
spreads of food that seem to last for days (although there is nothing wrong with enjoying
these things along the way). As Christians, we understand that Christmas is all about everlasting hope! The birth of Jesus not only fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, but it brought hope to every generation in history’s past and thankfully every single one to come in the future.

Why were the people so elated about the hope that Christ would bring? I mean, wasn’t this just
another birth? After all, people often asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth” (John 1:46)? 

Let’s take a trip back in time to put ourselves in the shoes of those living in Galilee, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem around the time of the birth of Christ. First off, there was a very brutal King (King Herod) in control of the entire land of Palestine and Judea (modern day Israel). It is estimated, by Biblical scholars, that ten percent of the nation’s people were born into nobility and wealth while the remaining ninety percent were horribly mistreated, worked as slaves, and had to fight for every basic need in life. King Herod was certainly a ruler who used coercion instead of persuasion to rule his kingdom! As you can imagine, this would not be an environment that anyone would be excited to be a part of. I think we can all agree this would certainly qualify as a dreary, weary world in our minds!

Secondly, for some 700-800 years the Hebrews, Jews, and Israelites had held close a promise, a promise of prophecy, that the Messiah was coming. In Isaiah, scripture predicts that the coming Messiah, “would be born of a virgin and His name would be called Immanuel, God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). These generations had, for years and years, passed down to younger generations this promise so that they could hold onto hope no matter how difficult things would become.

So, imagine, if you can, the excitement…the thrill…the hope that came to the people when
they realized a new star in the city of Bethlehem had appeared in the deep, dark, night sky; a
star that had never been there before; a star that would change everything! I can only
imagine King Herod’s fury when he heard the wise men exclaim, “Where is the newborn king
of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). Even King Herod knew that everything that had existed before the birth of Christ was about to
change. And perhaps he also knew there was nothing he could do about it, hence
his furious charge to slaughter all of the baby boys throughout the land. We know how the rest
of this story plays out. The wise men are warned, Joseph is warned, King Herod dies, and Jesus walks out the calling on his life to save wretched souls like mine and yours! The realization of prophecy fulfilled through the rising of a star brought hope and life to a very weary world. 

Many times, in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season we forget the humble beginnings of our Savior! The unconventional birth of Christ was the extraordinary beginning of our future!

Can I leave you with some words of encouragement today, in this blog? Are you struggling this holiday season? Do you feel stressed, alone, or depressed? You are not alone! Christmas was never supposed to be about stressing yourself to the max wondering if you’ve done enough for your family to enjoy the time and make everlasting memories. Christmas was never supposed to be about putting yourself in debt that you’ll struggle to recover from. Christmas was never supposed to be about trying to keep up with everyone around you. Many people struggle with depression and loneliness during the holidays. It seems as though no matter what they do, it’s never enough. Jesus doesn’t put that kind of pressure on us. Jesus came to set us free. Let Jesus be your comfort. Let Jesus be your companion. Let Jesus surround you with peace and love. You don’t need anything else in your life when Jesus is your friend. Christmas is all about hope! Hope of a Savior; hope that you have never been left alone; hope that tomorrow can be different than today; hope that changes our future. Jesus is hope!

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ —(Luke 2:8-14)

Let the true meaning of Christmas be the thrill of hope in this dreary, weary world!

1 Comment

Kristy Jennings - December 19th, 2022 at 8:30am

Thank you Pastor Brandy for reminding us of the true hope only Christ brings, and the true reason for the season.