A Thrill of Hope

Doesn’t that phrase just sustain you even now as you are reading it. A thrill of hope. The heart-racing, butterfly producing, anticipation of something exciting, something of incredible and possibly life changing impact. A thrill. This Christmas song is one of my favorites. I think of it at least once each day of December as I do my best to keep my focus on the point of Christmas. I love Christmas, so. much.

My heart for Christmas is the reason I volunteered to man the blog this month. I have loved reading the words of each MJOF ministry team member as they have shared some personal and profound truths during the months of September, October and November. I am so grateful to be part of such a gifted and spirit-filled community of women. And now it is my turn. December! The month of grace, hope, love, joy, peace, etc. It’s my month!

What I didn’t anticipate- for the sake of raw transparency- was that my Thesis paper, my plumbing, and someone else’s vomit would all go out in the same week. Yes, that’s right: plumbing- out, a Master’s Thesis culminating months of research- due, stomach virus- hit. So, December 1st didn’t come with the triumphant entry I thought it would! But isn’t that to be expected in a weary world? Needless to say, my favorite Christmas song has been on my mind all weekend, and Faith Journey Friday is happening on Monday this week.

Oh holy night the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till HE appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of HOPE the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn… Fall on your knees… O hear the Angels singing…. O night divine. O night, when Christ was born.

I don’t know about you, but I need some serious time of heart preparation during these coming weeks. I am tired, distracted, overwhelmed, and that is just from this weekend. In other areas of life, I am ending a season of learning and equipping in Seminary and entering into a time of unknown, and my family is moving. In my own world and the world around me I see sin and error, I see weariness, and I see souls that desperately need to feel their worth.

The beautiful thing about this song is that though the world it speaks of is the same as the world we see around us today, the most important lyrics are written in the past tense- “He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth… O night when Christ was born.” We are on the side of hope realized, which sustains us as that hope is continued: sin and error are still pining but they are forgiven, and a weary world feels the weight of suffering but in full assurance that our Savior WILL COME AGAIN. That is the worth of the soul. Worth the life and death of Jesus and the promise of His return through His resurrection. Worth that was established at the beginning of time when a plan for redemption was set in motion and the plan for rescue would begin on the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:1-5

A thrill of hope comes with the knowledge that the worth of our soul outweighs the weariness of the world- that the worth of our soul brings worth to the waiting. From the moment darkness fell on man, Jesus planned to come for us like light shining in a dark place. Jesus chose us once and He will do it again.

Hope, by definition, includes a waiting period because what is hoped for is a future event. For centuries the people of God waited for the arrival of the Savior that was promised to come in their future. Generation after generation was told to wait- Immanuel is coming! (Isaiah [7:14]), stay steadfast in hope- a King will defeat the enemy! (2 Samuel 7). The longer the wait the more weary the world became, and then the silence fell. For 400 years God’s people did not hear a word from the one who promised to save them. A thrill of hope? What about the silence?

Those 400 years were definitely drenched in darkness. They were full of war, oppression, and immorality all threatening to destroy any shred of hope remaining in the hearts of God’s people. Until one day when a Priest named Zechariah was serving in the Temple of God. For the first time in 400 years the Lord spoke: The Savior was coming:

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke [1:78]-79) A new and glorious morn.

The challenges that came before Jesus was born, lived, died and returned to heaven have long continued and will do so until the glorious morning (or afternoon, or evening) that He returns. And He will return. As we wait, let’s celebrate that the birth of this miraculous and beautiful Child is the reason our soul has value, the reason we are never overtaken by the darkness of this world- the reason the thrill of hope can still cause our hearts to race in anticipation as we think of how much He loves us… the reason for this season.

Each week we will feature a post of the qualities of Christ beginning this week with Hope. Stay with us each Friday as my friends and I explore joy and love before arriving at the arrival of Jesus. Merry Christmas friends, let’s take time to encourage one another daily this holiday season

 

-Carissa Hardage