“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us.”) (Isa 7:14)
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isa 9:1-2)
Waiting for a longed-for promise to be fulfilled is hard. The longer the wait, the harder it gets.
The 700 years from God’s promise through Isaiah to Jesus’ birth would qualify as a challenging kind of pregnant pause by any standard. As the generations passed and the centuries rolled on, the weight of the wait must have felt very heavy. When the immediate is immersed in darkness, the burden of not knowing the delivery date can tend to overshadow the certainty of its arrival.
Through all those centuries, God’s people had to rely on their trust in Him and because of that trust, the hope they had yet to see. As Paul would say later, who hopes for what he already has?
We, on the other hand, have the great blessing of living on the other side of the promised hope. For us, the weight of the waiting is over. Through the gospels, we are able to see Jesus in the flesh, to hear His voice, to weep at the feet of His cross, and to celebrate the awe of His resurrection.
Our wait is for God’s next promise to be realized; for His kingdom to come in its fullness when He comes again. As we wait, dark times and events can, and do, weigh on our hearts. We may ask the same anguished question put by the ancients: “How long, Lord?”
As we look back to the birth of the Light of the world, let’s remember that despite our anxiety, God’s timing is always perfect. In the meantime, we have Jesus as our burden-bearer, our Savior, our eternal hope. We have already received the Christmas delivery for which others waited so long. For us, the wait — and the weight — is over.