Weary But Joyful

By Ed Sutter, Senior Director of Christian Education

“How does a weary world rejoice?” It truly is a fantastic question, isn’t it? It strikes me as particularly poignant because we so rarely (if ever) equate the two feelings. Weary but joyful. Worn out but jubilant. Bedraggled but delighted. The ideas seem to oppose one another. So, how does a weary world rejoice?

Well, if we remain stuck in semantics, we may never get there. But, if we turn our minds to what we know of human experience we might notice something deeply resonant: the sincerest joys often come in the midst of the greatest weariness. Consider these three scenarios that might help illuminate the experience.

First, consider the images that you’ve seen online or in textbooks that portray VE Day (Victory in Europe) at the close of World War II. Not a single person in those pictures would have been a stranger to loss, pain, or grief; and yet they are incalculably jubilant.

Next, consider an athlete as victory is declared, or someone who crosses the finish line of their very first race. Sweaty, dirty, battered, sore, but arms raised and often with tears in their eyes. “They left it all on the field,” we say – but now they experience life with renewed strength from a heart full of celebration.

Finally, turn your mind to the women who have ushered life in the act of childbirth. It’s likely the case that I’ve not witnessed a more toilsome endeavor. Spanning months of sacrifice and adaptation culminating in an apex of fatigue and strain, weary does not begin to scratch the surface. But, oh the joy when mother and child behold one another face to face.

Mary must have known this, and it would seem that the shepherds had their own similar experience. Our Scriptures tell us that “they were terrified” at the arrival of the Lord’s angel (and rightly so). How quickly their terror turns to praise! From the most weary of worlds, the greatest praise does rise.

Has your heart become weary? Have the myriad worries of the day worn you down? There is already a victory. Christ has crossed the finish line. And in this season, we remember that a child has been born and beholds his Creation face to face. There is much about which we can rejoice, my friends.

God is good, Christ is Lord, the Spirit dwells within us. And don’t you forget it.