What one word would you use to sum up 2020? Unexpected? Unsettled? Or perhaps the ever-popular, unprecedented? Is it even possible to condense a year of global pandemic, social unrest, and disaster du jour into one word? As I thought about 2020, the word longing came to mind. We longed for the virus to go away and for life to get back to normal. We longed for restoration from wildfires and hurricanes. We longed for justice, comfort and peace. We longed for joy. And, as evidenced in surges of newcomers attending online church services and of Google searches about “prayer,” we longed for Jesus.
Seemingly in a flash, 2020 dashed to pieces any idea that we were in control. Celebrations that had always marked our lives were suddenly forbidden, or at best went “drive-by” or virtual. Sporting events that had previously knit together our weeknights and weekends took an abrupt time out. Travel once seen as refreshing became not worth the risk. The truth became evident; we were not as in charge as we thought.
Well, it was much the same for God’s people 2000 years ago. They were not in charge, either. They lived under oppression — the oppression of Roman governors and of sin. They longed for restoration. They longed for a better normal life. They longed for justice, comfort and peace. They longed for joy. They longed for Messiah, for someone to save them..
And on a magnificent starry night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, God sent Light into the dark world, keeping the promise He had hinted at in the Garden of Eden and held out to Abram (who would later be renamed Abraham). The Promised One, the Messiah, the Word made flesh, was born into our world to crush the head of evil, open for us the door of heaven, and usher in His righteous eternal reign. God proved His faithfulness to meet our deepest longing as Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us,” came to earth — bringing with Him eternal justice, comfort, peace and joy. May you live in and celebrate this reality this Christmas. Joy to the World the Lord is Come!
Bible Verses to Ponder:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”Genesis 12:1,3
1The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:1-3, 6-7
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16