In Waiting, Hope Is Found

In waiting

For the last few years, I have done an Advent calendar for my kids that included a Bible verse for each day. The verse is usually one of the “nice” ones, focusing on Jesus’ birth or how much God loves us. But this year, I’ve been thinking more about the true circumstances surrounding the coming of the Saviour and how far the pleasant verses fall from explaining the reality of the story. This is the sweet scene set in “Away In A Manger:”

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

It’s a beautiful lullaby, but is it really how things happened? Gentle and quiet with no more fanfare than some softly lowing cows? The world barely taking notice except for some pretty little stars looking down on him (and smiling, I assume).

The birth of this child had been foretold and prophesied about since the beginning of the world. We are told in John 1:1 that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But sin had entered the world and for hundreds of years the people could do nothing but wait and hope for their salvation from death.

Eve ate the apple. The Ark was built and the flood came. Abraham was called out of his homeland. Joseph was sold into slavery. Moses parted the Red Sea. Ruth found her family’s redeemer. David became a king of Israel. Elijah showed the Israelites proof of God. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Isaiah prophesied. The theme of redemption is powerful throughout the Old Testament.

And during all this time, the world waited.

Sarah gave birth to Isaac in her old age. Joseph was imprisoned. Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. Job suffered but did not curse God. Zechariah didn’t believe when the angel told him Elizabeth would bear him a son. Joseph found out about his fiancee’s pregnancy well before the angel assured him it was from the Holy Spirit.

But it was in this waiting that hope was found. Because at long last God kept his promise and the baby was born. The weary world could finally rejoice!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wise men from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

This moment in time was not quiet and sweet. It was the fulfilment of God’s promise to send His son who would redeem our fallen world. The angels rejoiced! Certainly, Hope had arrived.

And so, the Advent calendar in our home looks a little different this year. We will save the gentle Bible verses for another time. The true story of Christmas demands something more powerful. In that spirit, we have gone through many of the raw stories of the Old Testament. The ones my kids (and often, I) struggle to understand. Because the only way to describe the incomparable hope found in Jesus’ birth is to realize the absolute depravity of the world without it.

We can live within this same hope. In these days that are often dark, we can look forward to Jesus’ coming again. “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

So just as those who lived in Old Testament times looked forward to the Saviour’s arrival, we who are living in the end times can know that God will be faithful to his promises still and our Hope will return.

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