How can we possibly rejoice when we are weary?
I felt it before I even got out of bed the other morning. The heaviness in my bones, the familiar fog of depression closing in on my thinking. I moved slowly, and if I am being honest, I didn’t want to move at all. The quilt in my room seemed like a much more comforting environment than my desk chair under fluorescent lights.
“No, please, Lord. Not this year.”
My body knows what it is now, but for years, I wrestled with the darkness of seasonal depression and thought there was something severely wrong with me. I know now that I am not alone– that “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. Another 10 percent to 20 percent may have mild SAD,” (also sometimes known as the ‘winter blues’). The numbers for major depression and generalized anxiety are even higher.
I am on high alert as fall shifts into cold weather. After years of research and work in therapy, I still know that I need to be faithful in taking that small pink pill each morning. I reach out to my friends for prayer. I make a gratitude list. I take a walk. I go to my weekly recovery meeting. But sometimes, all of the “right” actions in the world cannot prevent this weary darkness from coming through in the biology of my body- down to my cells and my neurotransmitters that know winter is here.
This is not a diary entry about my annual bouts of depression. This is to let you know that even as God has brought healing into my life, I still struggle at times. And whatever you are walking through, I know that you most likely have an area of tender pain that aches for God’s healing.
On this earth, this broken and beautiful world is not as God originally designed it to be. Because of the sinful choices of humanity, we live in a fallen world that sin, sickness, and pain entered long ago. If not for Christ, we would be destined to eternal darkness and suffering. But Christ DID come, as promised, to serve as our redemption and ransom. He made it possible for us to taste glory and one day be joined with our Heavenly Father in eternity.
As we wait longingly for Christ’s second coming and for ALL to be redeemed, the earth groans for that full wholeness and healing. I love this passage from Romans 8:18-25 (NLT):
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.
We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently).
So here we are. Christmas Day. In the midst of our pain, suffering, weariness, we are encouraged to rejoice. How can we?
For those of you struggling right now with fear, anxiety, depression, heartache, insecurities, physical limitations, a mountain of debt, job insecurity, loss… I grieve with you. Christ grieves with us. He is acquainted with sorrow. In the midst of your weariness, you may not feel like showing great joy or delight. But Christ is with us.
Before we sing that “the weary world rejoices,” we sing of the thrill of hope. The world can rejoice BECAUSE of Christ’s birth and because Emmanuel is finally with us. HE is our hope.
The more we read His word, the more we can see the Bible as one story pointing us again and again to Jesus Christ. A great story of God’s love for us–those in suffering, the weary ones.
O 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 its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
When we can step back from our weariness to remember the whole picture–the overarching story of God chasing after those who are lost, lifting the heads of the downtrodden, and sending our Savior to walk among us–we can hopefully remember that He is a God of redemption. We can praise Him for being our hope. We can rest our weary souls in the quiet of a new and glorious morning.
Sweet and weary friends, I am praying for you today.