by Alexa Hess
My husband and I had only been married three weeks when we made our trek across the country to settle in Seattle. We spent two weeks traveling only to discover that our POD full of belongings was delayed when we arrived. Thankfully, we were able to stay at our pastor’s home, but because of the delay, we found ourselves completely frazzled during the week of Christmas. Once our POD arrived, we loaded in our belongings and began to unpack. I prayed that the Christmas tree I had ordered would make it soon so we could have some semblance of Christmas cheer amongst the unpacked boxes and cluttered floors.
That day, three days before Christmas, was one of the hardest days. We had loaded in all of our things, tried to make some organization out of the chaos, carried our mattress inside during the pouring rain, and we still weren’t done. We drove thirty minutes to pick up a van from a church member, to then drive another thirty minutes to use said van to load in a couch we picked up from Facebook Marketplace, and still had to go to the grocery store once we loaded in the couch and brought back the van.
As we drove, my heart felt weighed down by the amount of work we had done that day and the work that we still had to do. And even more than that, my heart felt heavy because I was entering the countdown to Christmas weary, stressed, and overwhelmed. But as we drove, the heavy rain around us became white as the rain turned to snow. The snow only lasted maybe seven minutes, but in those minutes, my heart rose as it surveyed the wonder of white around me. It was a thrill of joy. A thrill of delight. A thrill of hope.
Are you weary this Christmas? Even though the events written above happened last Christmas, I still feel weary this year. My home may be all put together now, but I still feel a weariness that presses down on my shoulders. We all have been living in an almost two-year pandemic now, and while there have been many positive improvements, these years have been hard. I don’t know what you have gone through this year, but I’m sure you feel weariness in some shape or form. Weariness from watching the news, weariness from taking care of a loved one, weariness from homeschooling your kids, weariness from work, and the list goes on. How can we have hope and joy this Christmas amid weariness?
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Holy Night.” Since I was a little girl, I have loved listening to this song fill the sanctuary or the car. There is a line in the song that has always stood out to me:
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
“O Holy Night” is a song celebrating the birth of Jesus. It invites us into the shoes of the shepherds, the wise men, and the everyday Israelite who was waiting for the birth of the Messiah. The nation of Israel had been waiting hundreds of years for the promised Messiah to come. Israel knew what it was like to experience heavy burdens as they were once slaves in Egypt and eventually became exiled from their land. And even though Israel had returned to their land, they were weary under Roman rule. They longed for the Messiah to come and bring them rest. But everything changed the night Christ was born. Those that got to witness the baby Jesus with their eyes experienced a thrill of hope. The Prince of Peace, the one who would give them rest, was here. They could rejoice even in their weariness, knowing that the Messiah, Jesus, had finally come.
Even though we have not witnessed the birth of Christ with our eyes, we have witnessed the work of Christ within our hearts. Christmas reminds us how the baby born in Bethlehem grew up to be a man. He would forgive sins and heal those afflicted with disease. He would open His arms wide and say, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus experienced being heavy laden in a way we never could as He took on the weight of our guilt and shame on the cross. Three days later, Christ would emerge from the tomb, proclaiming that death did not and could not crush Him. Now, all those who trust and believe in Jesus find their rest in Him.
Our bodies may be tired, but our souls can have hope. Our Savior has given us rest by forgiving us of our sin. Daily He strengthens us, by the Spirit, to endure as we live in a broken and sinful world. And because of His grace, all those who belong to Him will experience eternal rest with Him one day. Christmas reminds us of Christ’s first coming, but it also reminds us of Christ’s second coming. Even in our weariness, we can rejoice knowing that Jesus has come and will come again.
The small gift of snow that stressful day was God’s way of reminding me that joy can still be found on weary days and in weary seasons. The story of Christmas, and the good news of the gospel, teaches us how hope and joy can never be removed from us as believers, no matter how weary and overwhelmed we may be. We have more than a thrill of hope as followers of Christ—we have eternal hope. Though our days may be long and our shoulders feel heavy, our salvation in Christ and our eternity with Christ rests secure. So if you feel weary this Christmas, I pray that you will remember what is true in Christ and because of Christ. I pray that you will remember that you can find rest in the arms of the Prince of Peace. I pray that hope will fill your heart, and that your soul, even in a weary world, rejoices.