More this year than ever, I have come to understand the Christmas story in a different light. It is not simply a story of a baby born in a stable in some far off land, but about a deeper meaning. The nation of Israel had gone through glorious victories and the agony of suffering. But through it all, underlying every high and low is a sense of waiting, waiting for a savior to come and fulfill all the prophesies of their forefathers, to save them from unfair earthly rulers and be their ultimate king and ruler. It sheds a whole new light to some of the Christmas carols I grew up with. Take "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel" for example, the lyrics drip with their sense of waiting: "Oh come, Oh come, Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel (God with us)..." So the entire theme of the Christmas story is a grand fulfillment of hope after years of mourning and waiting. In fact the word advent in Latin means, "coming" or "waiting".
Isaiah 11:1 declares, "A shoot will come from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, states in her advent series, "The mattering part is never what isn't. What matters isn't about what dream has been cut down or what part of your heart has been cut out. The tender, mattering part is you have a hope, a tender branch that will shoot up into a crown of thorns, a rugged cross... Out of the stump of that fallen tree in your life, watered with living waters that come from the depths of his grace, a twig sprouted and that twig will be the subject that defeats your sin."
Proverbs 13:12 claims, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life."
Jesus is that longing fulfilled who became that tree of life out of a stump.
Tim and I know what it is like to have hope deferred, we know what it feels like to have that metaphorical tree of all our hopes and dreams cut down, we know what it is to cry out for Jesus to come, what it feels like to be captive to something. But for the first time in a long time I can tell you there is a shoot coming out of that stump. Out of our waiting a hope has been fulfilled. I want to share with you that I am 14 weeks pregnant (due June 19th). We have heard the heartbeat a few times and as of right now, everything is healthy. Thank you. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your tears, thank you for hoping for us when we had lost our hope. This doesn't mean we still don't covet your prayers. Being pregnant comes with worries of its own worries of tomorrow, worries of the future. Please continue to pray, pray for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, a spirit of peace and especially a spirit of joy. Our whole family is so grateful but we all are lacking joy. It is like a part of us is holding back, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But a longing has been fulfilled and I feel like every breath I take whispers "thank you". Thank you, Jesus for the Christmas story, reminding us that you fulfill our hope after years of mourning and waiting.