“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, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
“O Holy Night” is by far my favourite Christmas song. It captures the wonder of Christ’s birth and what it means to us. I love to look at each phrase and let the truth of it sink into the thoughts.
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 is wondering if she’s doing it right. Another father doubts his ability to parent and provide.
But that wasn’t just another baby appearing. The world had been waiting for so long, aching to be saved, longing for a way out of the sin and sorrow that held it fast. Then the 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 became 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 above all was tempted, tried, misunderstood and hated by people He created. The King of kings was willing to walk on dusty roads among common 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, but He also 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 were searching through history and fixing 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 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 one 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 amid a world beaten down and burdened. There is the promise of a 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 and Him 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. Still, He is Immanuel.