Monday, November 28, 2022

"A Thrill of Hope the Weary World Rejoices"

Many of the songs we sing during Advent and Christmas carry deep theology, but we often miss it for the comforting and catchy tunes, as well as the nostalgia and tradition.

Have you ever stopped to read the lyrics to “O Holy Night?” Originally written as a French poem in 1843, the text was soon put to music, and then in 1855 it was translated into English by John Dwight, who was a minister, abolitionist, and music critic. His translation is a song of juxtapositions, showcasing the light of Jesus’ birth against the world’s darkness. It reminds us that Jesus’ coming changes everything.

And then, in the fifth line of verse one: “A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”

There is no punctuation to help us determine the causality of this simple, yet impactful, phrase. Does a thrill of hope cause the weary world to rejoice? Is the weary world proclaiming, “a thrill of hope!”? Should we just enjoy the poetic rhythm and not try to analyze the meaning?

I did a quick Google search for this fifth line. I shouldn’t have been surprised. In the last few years, a lot of people have been writing about our weary world, and wondering when we will be able to rejoice again, and what we will have to rejoice about. These have been hard years. Hope has not felt like a thrill, sudden and exciting. Often, hope has been hesitant and held tightly with uncertainty. That has been our reality as humans prone to disease, disaster, and disorder on this planet Earth.

But if we were to take our view beyond ourselves, to the far reaches of heaven, from whence Jesus came, wouldn’t we see hope differently? Jesus did not come for a world full of hope and promise. He came for a world full of weariness and worry.

Author, Shannan Martin writes, “Without the weariness there is no thrill of hope.”
This doesn’t mean we seek out or celebrate weariness. But it does mean there is no shame in our need for a Savior. We can honestly say, “for when I am weak, He is strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10b).

Weary and waiting, let us be a people who expect the thrill of hope that only Jesus can bring.

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