A Carol for the Depressed
“…Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day”
You recognize it? I’m sure you do (it’s in the picture at the top of this post…). Many of you are humming the tune, but you might be a little confused/bothered. Something’s missing – the opening line. The carol begins, “God rest you merry, gentlemen.”
We don’t really speak like this anymore. I mean when is the last time you told someone “rest ye merry?” What does that even mean?
Here’s a quick translation – “God keep you joyful, folks.” That translation is a little informal, but it’s pretty accurate. (The Oxford English Dictionary provides some fine old English examples.)
So the point of this Christmas carol is “God keep you joyful, folks.”
Why? Because life is dismaying.
Seasonal happiness is fleeting. Expectations don’t always match reality. We lost the game. My spouse let me down again. The world is making less sense every day. The money’s gonna run out. The kids don’t call or come around like they used to. My grades aren’t good enough. The worship service was boring. So and so is better looking. Injustice continues. Evil is called good, and good is called evil.
Dismay happens. But there’s more to the story of our lives than dismay.
“Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day
to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.”
Into that story, our story, we must remember that Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day for a very specific purpose – to save us all from Satan’s power. You see we, along with Satan, we too are going astray and adding more and more dismay. But Jesus came to save us from ourselves and Satan. He was born on Christmas Day to live perfectly, die sacrificially, and resurrect victoriously. Satan is as a mortally wounded dragon flailing his wings and tail as life slowly seeps out of him.
But as we walk by faith nearing the end of the story we don’t always see that rescue. We feel a flailing wing draw blood on our cheek. We hit the ground as the flailing tail knocks our legs out from under us. So we encourage each other in song (Colossians 3:16) to remember Christ our Savior. Because we forget. And then we dismay.
“O, tidings of comfort and joy.”
Comfort. This is what the dismayed need, and comfort is what the Savior’s birth gives to those who believe that Satan is losing.
Who needs God to keep them joyful? People who have joy, but live on this side of heaven. People who are losing their joy. People who have very little joy left.
Who needs God to keep them joyful? People who have none.
Let’s all pray (and sing) for the dismayed, “God rest you merry.”
For those friends who can’t keep themselves merry, God can.