This past week I saw an Instagram post that really stood out referencing a line from “O Holy Night,” the beloved Christmas carol. It read, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
Have you felt the weight and weariness of life this year? As I serve and love the people around me in my home, ward, neighborhood, and community, I see the weary world all around me. I see it in the eyes of someone struggling with their mental health and not sure if there is a reason to keep living. The weary most certainly include those plagued by illnesses, sickness, and the frailties of the human body.
I see it when I talk to a friend who is struggling with her marriage or when the teenagers ask questions about this confusing world. There are weary people who have lost work and ways to provide for their families, and brothers and sisters who carry the ongoing weight of not being equally treated in society because of race, culture, or gender. There are so many that mourn over the social injustices of the world and the pain and death caused by the atrocities of war.
We are weary. Those around us are weary. The world is weary.
But the world can have hope
The world can rejoice because Jesus Christ came for the weary. His life’s purpose was to seek out the marginalized, meek, and lowly and because He too was the outsider and the weak, He was able to descend below all things and comprehend all things.
In 2 Corinthians we read, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Jesus Christ truly condescended below all things. He could minister and provide rest to those on the margins, because He too was also on the margins. His love is so perfect and so all-encompassing because of His gift to us as the Savior of the world.
Jesus’ mission to the marginalized was embodied in His own birth and upbringing. He could have been born to a Pharisee or king or any number of situations, but He wasn’t. Instead He was a Jew, the son of a carpenter, a refugee.
During his life, His hand was outstretched to all, but we have many accounts of Him with the marginalized: the women, the outsiders, the lepers, the sinners, and the impoverished. Fundamental to the doctrine He taught was that we are of one fold and that He is our Shepherd and that He knows His sheep, that they are known of Him, and that He will lay down His life for them—all of them.
As Jesus taught in a parable, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).
So, in 2023 just like all the years gone by, the Prince of Peace asks us to love our neighbor and to mourn with those that mourn. No doubt Christ would ask us, “What are we doing to help those who are suffering in any way?” I can be certain that Christ would want us to do these things, because He set the perfect example of true charity and love throughout His life and in the miracle of the Atonement.
The joy of Christmas
This Christmas, I believe the weary world can rejoice. As Elder Holland shared in his 2020 Christmas devotional talk, “Yes, however difficult our day has been, the sweet dreams of the night can make everything right” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Dreams of Bethlehem” [First Presidency Christmas devotional, 2020], broadcasts. ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
In Isaiah we read, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Elder Brent H. Nielson in his 2020 Christmas devotional talk shared, “The Savior invites all of us at this Christmas season and always. ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . Ye shall find rest unto your souls’” (Brent H. Nielson, “The Prince of Peace” [First Presidency Christmas devotional, 2020], broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
As the Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” assures, we can lay down our heads and rest for truly “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
There is indeed a thrill of hope. The weary world can rejoice. Like in “O Holy Night,” we are promised, “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
Jesus Christ is our hope because He CAME to the earth to be our Savior, and He will COME again.