Just a few months ago, I stood in our candlelit worship center at Shandon and sang these words with one thousand other excited and expectant worshipers. O Holy Night. It was Christmas Eve. To me, it’s the most exciting, most fun night of the year. There’s so much hope and wonder and expectation. Expectation for joy! And goodness! And grace! And the hope that my kids will shriek with delight when they open their presents! There are countless reasons to be thankful as we worship and celebrate with family and friends.
Hope is thrilling! We rejoice! Jesus came to earth in human form, as a baby, and redeemed it all. He took our brokenness and made us whole. There’s so much to celebrate.
And, now, just a few short months later, the whole world is weary. In an unprecedented time of extreme illness, isolation, and the financial strain of all of it, we’re weary. We see news story after news story and so many Facebook posts showing us what’s happening all over the world. We hear that it’s coming for the people of the United States next. And we feel hopeless.
Where is our hope when the world is shutting down? When we know that people in our community are losing their jobs. Or when we know that people are really really sick. We know that parents are having to choose whether they go to work that day or stay home with their children who aren’t able to go to school. We wave at our neighbors from a distance and smile, and we really want to run over and shake their hands or give them a hug. Where is our hope?
It’s not in our health. It’s not in our financial security. It’s not in our friends or family that we can see on a moment’s notice. It’s not in our institutions.
It’s still there, friends. That thrilling hope. It hasn’t left us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Our list of worries is a lot longer than it was on Christmas Eve. These things are real and they are devastating. But our hope remains.
Jesus Christ came to rescue and redeem our broken world. Can we still rejoice in the midst of this uncertainty? James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” We don’t count this joy because we think it’s fun; we can count it joy because we know that God is always working for our good and His glory- and for our sanctification.
So we look to our hope- to heaven- when we’re filled with sorrow and grief. There’s a beautiful inheritance waiting for us there. And we rejoice! Rejoice, weary world, because there is hope in this trial. His name is Jesus.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.