Storytime: A few years ago, we were sitting around the table and finishing up our meal when all of a sudden my niece Emma blurts out, "Ok. I'm done! Ipa-keem (ice-cream) time!" It was hilarious!
What followed was a humorous dialogue between her mom and her about why we needed to wait until everyone was finished before having dessert. As you can probably guess, Emma wasn't down with the idea. And in response, Emma began to go around the table and ask each individual who was still eating if they were done. Well, they were not, and she had to wait. So for the next 5 minutes, everyone kept one eye on Emma, and watched her squirm and exhale dramatically. To top it off, I was the last one to finish - she was not my biggest fan at that moment! So finally, when I took my last bite, I looked at Emma and said, "Emma, I'm done." Well... the kid nearly blew the roof off with joy and excitement (and lots and lots of screaming)!
There is a line in "O Holy Night" that is just beautiful.
It goes, "The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices." And as I reflect on that line, I think of Emma and her childish anticipation for ice cream. In that little squirmish body, she was overwhelmed by this thrill in the hope that ice cream was just moments away.
Shifting gears for a moment.
I think we can learn something from Emma. See, as she was sitting in her chair awaiting everyone to be finished dinner, you could visibly recognize her consistently rehearsing in her mind what it would be like when dessert was finally here.
However, for many of us, myself included, we often rehearse tragedy in our mind, not hope. As a way of coping with the weariness in our life, we constantly rehearse in our mind all the potential tragedies that could occur.
This becomes a way to numb ourselves to pain, for we have convinced ourselves that it is easier to consistently think about the worst case scenario and prepare ourselves for the other shoe to drop, than to be arrested by the thrill of hope.
And. It. Is. Exhausting.
This is why I am so stoked for Christmas and our Christmas Eve service! Because the message of Christmas is SO needed!
The message of Christmas is not a Hallmark movie but a profound cry to all those who are weary and exhausted by the tragedy in their minds, "Don't be afraid! There is good news for you, a message that will fill you with joy!" (Luke 2:8-20)