Updated: Dec 8, 2020
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I have ever felt a word resonate so much. It is December 7th as I write this. It is the most wonderful time of the year - it’s Christmas time! Merry Christmas, right? I was listening to the classic Christmas song “O Holy Night” this morning and heard that famous line, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” We are indeed weary. It has been said so much that it’s almost cliche - I am ready for 2020 to be over.
We are tired, over-exerted, exhausted, we are weary. We’ve weathered a pandemic, the most contentious election year in recent memory, mass shootings, wildfires, and we didn’t get to enjoy March Madness! This has been a strange, sad, maddening year and we have all experienced a wide array of emotions throughout, but the word that has stuck out to me recently has been weary. I’ve been angry, I’ve been mournful, I’ve been frustrated, I’ve been bored, but more than anything I am weary. And I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to guess that you are as well.
I know you are probably thinking, “Yeah, we are tired. Thanks for the reminder, now what?” I am writing this to myself as much as I am to you. And of course no one needs to be reminded of the fact of our weariness. But I need to be reminded of the truth that is written in a later verse of that same song, O Holy Night, “Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.”
This year has been difficult for all of us. And I guess that is what I hope we all remember, that the slave is our brother. Hardship is not a competition, and if it were, we would all lose. So let us not compare our stories to others, and let us not dismiss others experiences based on our own. Rather, remember that the slave is our brother. We are all connected, if by nothing else than our shared experience of an unprecedented global crisis. While I may not have lost anyone in my immediate circle this year, my brother has, and so have I. While I may not have been affected financially this year, my brother has, and so have I. I may not be feeling isolated and alone, but my brother is. If you look on social media or cable news, you may get the feeling that it is every man for himself, or at least that anyone who does not see things the same way you do is against you. But listen, you are my brother, my sister.
And while we all struggle under the weight of the chains of an economic collapse and subsequent recovery, the chains of loss, the chains of isolation, there is good news. “Chains shall He break!” If you are feeling weary, allow me to remind us of the thrill of hope that causes this weary world to rejoice. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Here is a sobering reality, 2021 is not going to erase 2020. We will still be weary and burdened on January 1st. We will still be feeling the weight of our chains. And so as I consider this awful truth, that 2021 is not going to make all of this disappear, I listen to “O Holy Night” and I rejoice. I do, because Jesus is that thrill of hope. Jesus is the one who breaks our chains. He said it thousands of years ago, but the invitation still stands - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
This is for all of us. Chains shall He break, brothers and sisters. And while there are many chains that remain to be broken for so many, the truth remains that after all of this, Jesus is the risen conqueror who will break every chain, and in His name all oppression shall cease. It may not be on January 1st of 2021, but that day is coming, and so this weary, weary world may rejoice.