A Thrill of Hope for Your Holiday Season

Sometimes we just need a thrill of hope and the holiday season can bring such joy! What do we have to put our hope in?

They say we’re putting up Christmas decor earlier and earlier. Stores now stunt Halloween, ghost Thanksgiving, and dash to deck their shelves with Christmas in one fell swoop. Perhaps they have been jockeying to do so all along, refining their bait and switch turnaround at whiplash speed. But in recent years I’ve noticed consumers are increasingly becoming game for it. The resistance is gradually losing its foothold and festive trees are popping up in windows all over quiet neighborhoods long before December arrives. 

Have we just become conditioned? Are we tired of resisting? Perhaps. But I wonder if our acquiescence speaks to something greater.

The Spirit of the Season

In 2017, a widely shared but unverified study peppered the headlines boasting that people who decorate for Christmas early are happier. Forget the fact that they may be ridiculed by after-Thanksgiving purists, or may incur the quiet scorn of their neighbors. Psychologists attest to the fact that decking the halls does produce that feel-good hormone dopamine, which makes those early decorators generally happier people. 

My own unscientific research seems to support the study’s conclusions. In early November I meandered through a crowded local boutique as they had just unveiled their Christmas wares. The merry small-town shoppers were eager to partake, laughing with friends as lines squirreled around the little shop. I spoke with the shop owner briefly and she mentioned business was good. She has been at this for years, and as a wise business woman, she keeps her finger on the pulse of her customers. She wasn’t quite sure what this year would bring with political tensions and inflation gnawing at everyone. “But everyone seems to be in great spirits,” she said. “Like they are ready for this.”

Ready for this.

A Thrill of Hope

Her words rang in my ears and mingled with the words of a popular Christmas hymn… a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

Perhaps the savvy businesswoman is right. And the research scientists too. There is a thrill of hope in this weary world. We are ready for it. Why wouldn’t we eagerly reach for it?

I sat with Psalm 130 not long after my conversation with that shopkeeper. In this Song of Ascent we hear a familiar longing. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!… Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! The depths of the Psalmist’s lament may have been different from our own, but we have felt them just the same, haven’t we? Those rising political tensions, the bleak of the unknown, the diagnosis, the relational or financial strain – we know what it’s like to plead for mercy and beg Him to hear.

But as the psalmists so frequently do, he reminds his heart of what is true. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. 

A thrill of hope. His given word, given promise, steadfast love. For them, then. And us, now. What beautiful truth.

Something to Celebrate

I’m not here to settle the decorate early or decorate late debate (while my own living room glows with the soft flicker of tree lights), but I will say this: you and I have something to celebrate. A King was born and a King shall return. We live in a weary world, a world languishing under the strain of all that is broken. But you and I, we know a hope that does not disappoint, a hope that does not put us to shame, because we aren’t chasing a distraction. We aren’t assuaging our weary with another string of lights or a few wrapped gifts under a tree. As Paul proclaimed, “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 ESV 

He came. And again He will come. His promise is the real thrill of hope for a weary world. May we be found rejoicing.

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