I’ve been thinking about waiting during this Christmas season. We’re always waiting for something — for our kids to hit the next milestone, for the other shoe to drop, for the line at Wal-Mart to move faster (why do we always choose the wrong line?), for that online gift to hurry up and get here, for our “luck” to change, for our big break to come, and on and on.
Our waiting, though, isn’t much compared to the Israelites who were waiting for a promised Redeemer. It wasn’t like they didn’t have any hope — the prophets had foretold a coming Messiah who would change everything — but they had no idea when he’d actually get there, and 400 years is a long time to wait, especially when you’re fighting to maintain your identity.
I love this song, but it takes on even more meaning when you really think about the emotion of waiting so long for a rescue operation with no sign of anything changing:
Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Oh come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Thy people with Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Oh come, Thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’ver the grave
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!
Captivity and mourning and lonely exile and gloom and death’s dark shadows and Satan’s tyranny and the depths of hell don’t paint a pretty picture. So yeah, when a multitude of angels suddenly broke into glorious song in the night sky over Bethlehem, the people were ready to rejoice, ready to believe, ready to finally let their hope become a reality.
And because a baby came to that sleepy little town, we can have hope today too, even if we’re waiting for something.
Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman … to redeem those who were under the law.” He didn’t send Christ before he was ready. He didn’t send him early or late. He sent him when he planned to, when the fullness of time had come, at the exact right moment.
That phrase, “the fullness of time.” It’s perfectly poetic. It implies a period of waiting, of watching and hoping and desiring, all the while knowing that if you get what you’re yearning for too soon, it won’t be as good as if you had waited the proper amount of time.
Today might not be your fullness of time, or mine. Tomorrow or the next day might not either. We might have to wait through days that are long and nights that are longer. But if we’re children of God, called according to his purpose and redeemed by that baby-become-a-Savior, God is doing things in our lives at the exact moment He is ready, when our fullness of time is upon us.
And that means we can rejoice — because Emmanuel has come to us.