Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel…even in 2020

Posted by Susan On December 3, 2020 ADD COMMENTS

A hundred years from now, stories will still be told about 2020: “The Year the Whole World Stopped.” There’s never been anything like it in our history. 

We’re nearing the end of 2020, but unfortunately, it isn’t necessarily a finish line. What began as the infamous “two weeks to flatten the curve” has now become almost a full year of frustration, separation, fears, limitations, and losses of so many kinds for pretty much everyone- and there’s no end in sight.  We’re cautiously walking out these last weeks of the year, but what’s ahead is still very much a fog. What a strange way to enter the Christmas season! 

Still, Christmas lights enthusiastically dazzle our neighborhood as eager beacons of hope- a desire to return to the comfort and joy of tradition and life as we’ve always known it. At the same time, despondency is creeping in, making it very hard for others to scrape together enough motivation to be “merry” at all! 

Adversity has a way of crushing spirits. But it doesn’t have to be that way, because our hope is not in a return to the comfort and contentment we’ve always known. Our hope is in Emmanuel. 

Within the context of this current Advent season, I’ve been deeply pondering what may be the most unlikely “Christmas” story I would have imagined- the story of Jacob’s young son Joseph. Remember that Joseph? Scorned by his jealous brothers, he was thrown into a pit by his family members, then sold by them into Egyptian slavery. Working his way up to regal service to Pharaoh, he was then accused of rape by the wife of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Consequently Joseph was thrown into prison, though he did nothing to deserve it. 

Even after interpreting the dreams of fellow-prisoners, and with the promise of Pharaoh’s cup-bearer to appeal to Pharaoh for his release, he continued to be forgotten. In all of this, Joseph’s life seemed to be a chain of adversity after adversity, and at any point of it, he must have wondered if God Himself had forgotten him. 

Yet when he was finally reunited with his brothers, he told them, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20.) Through it all, God was writing a story- and Joseph himself was not the main character of it, though he played a significant role in it. It was God’s Story. 

Likewise, from our current perspective, 2020 may have been a year of adversity after undeserved adversity- just like it was for Joseph. What’s ahead may seem like a fog to us, and it may be very tempting to question where God is in all of this. And yet our faith convinces us that God is writing His Story, like He was in Joseph’s life. With adversity staring us in the face, at times it might feel like we’re the main characters of the story– but we’re not. In truth, we have a very great privilege– as Joseph did– to be used as the characters through whom God is bringing about His will and purposes for His glory, and for the advancement of His Kingdom. What a time to be living out history- “His-Story!”

The interesting thing that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed so clearly before is that all through the story of Joseph’s adversity, the Bible repeatedly reminds us that, “The Lord was with Joseph…” Genesis 39:2, “The Lord was with Joseph…” (:21), “The Lord was with him,” (:23). 

Emmanuel- God with us. It’s the very heart and soul of Jesus’ coming to earth! What a “Christmas” story indeed! 

There are some who are praying that in the coming uncertain days and months, God would change our circumstances to more favorable ones. But then, there are those who are praying that God would reveal Himself through Jesus as Emmanuel –“God with us”– in the adversities, the fog, the uncertain days ahead of us, for the sake of His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom on the earth. 

So deck the halls! Turn on those dazzling lights! Gather with the family, and sing those beautiful carols of true hope. 

“Oh come, oh come Emmanuel!” God is with us, no matter what lies ahead. Hallelujah!



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