“Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, as yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
O Holy Night is far and away my favorite Christmas song. It captures both the wonder of Christ’s birth and what it means for us. I love to look at each phrase and let the truth of it sink in.
First, there is this: “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, till he appeared.”
He appeared. Another baby in the world. Another young mother wondering if she’s doing it right. Another father doubting his ability to parent and provide.
But this wasn’t just another baby who appeared. The world lay for so long, aching to be saved, longing for a way out of the sin and sorrow that held it fast. Then this baby, called Immanuel, arrived.
Immanuel means “God with us.” He lived among us. God became one of us in order to be the way out. The aching was over. The longing was fulfilled.
This name of Jesus holds the wonder of full divinity and full humanity in one being. The Creator of the universe was a helpless, vulnerable baby in the arms of a young woman. When we feel needy, weak and helpless, He understands. When we grow weary of this world and long for our true home, He feels it with us.
The one who gives life subjected Himself to hunger and exhaustion. The one who is above all was tempted, tried, misunderstood and hated by people He created. The King of kings was willing to walk dusty roads among unknown people. The infinite chose to be finite.
That means Jesus knows our struggles. When we experience loneliness, rejection or discouragement, He knows. And He knows what it is like to walk closely with the Father through all of it. Jesus not only experienced it, He showed us how to live it in complete dependence on God.
Why would He do this for us? For the simple reason that He loves us.
“Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.”
I feel my worth when I consider Immanuel. I feel His eyes search through history and fix on me, saying, She is My child, and I will do this to rescue her.
The fact that He chose to be Immanuel demonstrates His deep love for me, for you, for us. He endured the hunger, exhaustion and suffering so that He could provide the way out for us. He did what was necessary because He so deeply desired a relationship with each of us.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
Contemplating Immanuel gives me a reason to hope in the midst of a world beaten down and burdened. There is a reason to hope, a promise of new life. He wasn’t just Immanuel during His time on earth. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, now, in each moment.
He overcame everything that stood between us so that we can experience His love, grace, peace, joy and power in our day-to-day lives. No matter what we walk through, He walks through it with us. He is Immanuel still today.
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