7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
What’s your favourite Christmas carol? I’ve always loved the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel” with its haunting melody and the lyric “rejoice” set against a minor key.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” encourages Israel to rejoice even while they are waiting for deliverance from their hardships. They can rejoice because of the confidence that He is coming. And boy, did they wait! It was 700 years between Isaiah’s prophecies and the birth of Jesus.
Sounds fitting for 2020, doesn’t it? No one realized that COVID-19 would last this long. For many, this has been an excruciating year of loss: the loss of a loved one, the loss of moments with family members, the disappointment of canceled events, or the loss of a job and finances. We must give ourselves and others the space to grieve those losses.
In a season of trouble, while waiting for this pandemic to end, can we also rejoice? Is it possible to truly celebrate Jesus’ birth at the end of a challenging year? Is it possible for grief and hope to co-exist?
I believe it is!
In fact, without pain, there is no need for hope. Pain points us to hope. And hope points us to a baby in a manger 2000 years ago. Hope points us to a Saviour on a cross who took our sickness, pain, and hardship, and every wrong thought, word, and deed we’ve ever committed.
Hope points us to God’s redemptive plan for all of creation. On the other side of eternity, He will right every wrong and wipe every tear. Until then, hope points us to Emmanuel, “God with us”... He is with us through every high and low. In the face of loss, we discover that Jesus is everything we need.
The lyrics of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” recognize and validate Israel’s hardships while also allowing it to become an arrow toward a reason to rejoice. May we follow that example and allow our seasons of loss to direct us to the hope we have in Jesus.
Emmanuel, He is with us!
O Come O Come Emmanuel
Written by John Mason Neale
Arrangement by Chelsea Amber, Fraser Campbell, Nate Savage
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,