I am not good at waiting. In fact, I can’t stand surprises. If I know something is coming, I want it right then. Obviously this trait is exposed every year at Christmas. Growing up, I remember looking for—and sometimes finding—my Christmas presents each year. I was a joy thief. I was so discontent in the waiting that I missed the beauty in the anticipation of what was to come.
For centuries, the Israelites waited and waited for their Messiah to come. Isaiah prophesied that a child would be born to a virgin some 700 years before Christ was born. That is a lot of waiting! Day after day, year after year, the people of God sat in the unknown of when their Savior would come. I don’t know how they made it. If the Israelites were anything like me, I imagine them asking daily when the Messiah would come. “When will our Deliverer come rescue us?” “When will the Child be born who will carry the government on His shoulders?” But they waited. Like watchmen who wait in the darkness for the dawn of morning, they anticipated His coming.
And then, in the middle of an unassuming night, the sky lit up with the glory of the Lord. A symphony of angels delivered the great proclamation to the shepherds in the field, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The time had finally arrived. The prophecy was fulfilled. Emmanuel had come.
So where does this leave us today? It is easy to look back at the Israelites and not give a second thought to their longing for the Messiah to come. We understand that Christ came. We know that He lived a perfect life on this earth. We know that He died a horrific death. We are confident that He was raised on the third day. We know that He sits at our Father’s right side. But I think we would be wise to enter into the longing they felt—because Christ is coming again.
Anticipation for the Lord’s return should be in our hearts daily. Our prayers should be filled with requests for the Lord to come rescue us. As we share the hope of Christ with the lost, there should be urgency in our voices, knowing that at any moment the King could return. My hope is that we would be a people who are settled in the assurance that Jesus is coming again. But I pray that, as we wait, we would do so with joyful expectation in our step.
We have something before us to look forward to that is even bigger than Christmas. We have something to set our minds and hearts on that is greater than presents. Our Deliverer is coming for us!