Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Imagine that someone who means a great deal to you starts to send you messages saying they will soon be coming to stay with you. Message after enthusiastic message promising an arrival that leaves you feeling hopeful and excited. You begin to make preparations – cleaning house, setting up rooms, planning meals, telling friends and family.

And then you wait.

But days go by with no word. You call to confirm, but nobody answers. Did you misunderstand? Did they decide not to come after all? Did they forget or make other plans?

The days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months, and still no sign. No message. No call. No coming.

Nothing, but silence.

Sit with that feeling for a moment before reading on.

As you sift through your heart’s responses, you begin to realize that their coming wasn’t just something you were sort of looking forward to. It was something you deeply desired, maybe more than you’ve ever desired anything before.

Because their arrival would bring
Change.
Restoration.
Newness.
Life.
Relief.

Now imagine you are a Jew living in the beginning of the first century. You’ve grown up on stories of Yahweh’s faithfulness to your ancestors and of miracles He performed on their behalf. As far back as you can remember, you’ve taken part in feasts and celebrations to commemorate these stories of faith, salvation and redemption. You have read about His promises to bring future healing, help and restoration. But the months have now turned into years; 400 of them, to be exact. Four long centuries have passed since the prophet Malachi voiced the last message from Yahweh to His people.

And there’s still no sign of Him, no sign of His promises being fulfilled, no sign of His coming.

You walk by the temple and hear the old men wailing, asking that God remember His promises and bring deliverance to His people. But silence seems to be heaven’s only answer. Though life continues on, hope wanes and the light of faith grows dim.

What must it have been like to live in those 400 years of silence and waiting? What was it like for God’s people to have been given promises for deliverance, only to have heaven’s doors seemingly shut to their cries, wondering, “Will He keep His promise, or has He left us for good?”

And then, in that quiet, unassuming moment, while heavy hearts and burdened bodies were sleeping away another day’s load, perhaps when the flame of hope was all but extinguished, He came.

He came.

Not late, but right on time, at the best time.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining; till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

And the word that accompanied His advent? Peace.

On that holy night, the angels thundered out a chorus of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Shalom, wholeness, healing, safety, fullness, comfort, rest. Peace.

Finally, here was the long-awaited Word, and the word He came to bring.

Peace from toiling and striving. Peace from clenching and grasping. Peace from lies and unanswered questions and turmoil within. Peace to those who thought they had been abandoned to make it on their own. Peace to those who continued to strain for His coming. Peace from sin and death.

Peace.

“I am here. And I’m not leaving you. You can rest. Breathe. Unclench. Drop your heavy burden. Peace I give you. Because everything – everything – has been taken care of.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

2,000 years later, we find ourselves in a different season of waiting. We await His glorious return and our full and final redemption. Many of us wait with burdens, grief, fear, pain, longings, wounds, and questions. I think about how Mary waited all those years ago, trusting that God would make good on His promise. And as she waited, He was forming Christ within her very body; she would deliver the One who would then deliver us all. We also, like Mary, are enlarged in the waiting as God carries out His beautiful work of birthing Christ within us, too. We do not wait as those without hope. But instead we wait in eager anticipation knowing that God is, right now, making all things new. Even us.

This Christmas, whatever you are carrying in the waiting, bring it to the manger. Open wide the womb of your heart to receive the Prince of Peace, God’s greatest Gift of Love, and let God birth something new within you. In your waiting, find hope in Jesus, the One who came. Hold tightly to Him who is come, and who will come again. Remember and believe once more in the God of promise. For His is not a silence or slowness as we understand it, but an advent of the best time, the best way.

The best Him.

Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Come Thou long-awaited Immanuel.

The Skit Guys made an amazing video for Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Please watch this stunning rendition. 

Where have you seen waiting end up ushering the right time for something in your life? Anyone in a season of waiting right now?

13 Comments

  1. Emily March December 11, 2013

    I have a love/hate relationship with the word “waiting.” One one hand, waiting can be a beautiful showing of faith in a hope that God has given you. On the other hand, I have believe that ‘just waiting’ isn’t necessarily what we should be doing. That God has a task for us each day. This stems from my stubbornness as a young adult to not fully understand how to handle seasons of waiting. You see, I grew up in a Christian home, and was baptized when I was 10. At the age of 12, God told me very clearly that I was to be His full time servant in a land far away. And, that he would provide a Godly husband for me to serve with! How exciting is that for a 12 year old girl!! Well, I left high school single, and went off to Bible college to learn how to do things right. Then, I left college single too. Not really understanding what was going on, in my naive mind, I believed I only had two options. Go out and make this “calling” happen on my own, or sit back and just wait in a corner. Well, since I’ve never been good at sitting still, I tried to make things happen on my own… Total and utter failure! Ironically, when I was on an internship in Africa, 4 different people working there told me that I should “go home and get married first, then come back.” I kid you not! They used those exact words. This took me a while to process, but finally, a wise woman took me aside and helped me see what I should have been doing all along. She helped me see that God had already given me gifts and talents that he wanted me to use – where I was. That he was giving me “things to do” while I waited on His timing for what he had shown me. It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I was waiting for, and started actually following on a daily basis, that my heart was really ready for what he had planned! And it was more amazing that I ever could have dreamed or planned on my own!

    1. Morielle December 12, 2013

      Oh, Emily, what a story about godly waiting! Thank you so so much for sharing it. I’ve often struggled trying to put together all the language about Jesus as the Prince of Peace and his words, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” But I think I saw a glimpse of how to live with both in your story. Jesus had full authority over the world when he told his disciples to go and make disciples, he could’ve ended it there. Instead he chose to give us the opportunity to use his word to fight for a Peace that we know will come fully in the future.

      I don’t know what my future holds, but your story of active waiting has really inspired me. Thanks again.

    2. Polly December 12, 2013

      Thanks for sharing Emily! You’re right…waiting is anything but passive! It takes faith and courage and strength and a will to follow the One who directs our steps, while neither sitting in a corner biding time nor trying to make things happen on our own. Thankfully God provides us with everything that we need to follow Him in the waiting.

  2. Elisa December 11, 2013

    Polly, this was amazing! Thank you for sharing this to help us “prepare Him room”! And thanks for sharing your Advent extras like the skit guys as well!

  3. Dawn December 12, 2013

    “In the waiting, find hope in Jesus, the One who came, and hold tightly to Him who is come, and who will come again. ” Love this. Thank you for the reminder of the sweet hope that is ours.

  4. Jennifer December 12, 2013

    Waiting is a challenge. Waiting can be hardest to me at least when I am not even necessarily certain just what I am waiting for… just what the answer will be, just what will come. Just waiting. In our times of waiting, above all we need to simply remember, that we do not wait alone, however alone we may feel. There is one who waits with us, walks beside us, strengthens us, enables us to simply stand as we wait. We do not always get what we expected or wanted when we began to wait but sometimes the waiting time also changes us, or helps us to look with new eyes, so that when the waiting ends, we see that what came, what we received, is just what we needed all along.

    1. Jennifer December 12, 2013

      I am waiting… I can see movement, something in the distance… Hope that maybe soon this waiting will end. Yet, I also know that when this time of waiting ends, I will then begin to wait again for something else. Is it not true that life=waiting?

      1. Shelly Page December 12, 2013

        Jennifer, I completely agree: Life=waiting. “We are not yet what we will be, but when he appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him…”.

  5. Keri December 18, 2016

    Polly, This was the song that was in my head this morning as I woke up and spoke to the Father with my husband. We have been waiting for many years for family members to know Him and the waiting gets harder and harder this time of year and with every passing year. Thanks for this beautiful reminder. You are a blessing!

    1. Polly December 20, 2016

      Keri, thank you for sharing. I too know this kind of waiting. As you pray for your loved ones, remember that God carries the burden with you, and His heart longs for your family members even more deeply than yours does. A question I often ask myself when faced with grief and pain is: what is God inviting me into in this? What of His heart is He wanting me to know? May you be able to understand even more fully His heart of passion and love for His people as you wait for Him to save.

  6. Angela December 19, 2016

    We’re currently in a season of waiting as we get our funds raised to get to Guatemala, the place that He’s calling us to. We live with his parents, all six of us, for the past 9 months…it was supposed to be three months. Waiting is hard but waiting here is painful. It’s not a good environment for our family due to a LOT of miscommunication between his parents and his younger siblings. This is a family that “knows better” but forgets often that loving Jesus and changing the world begins at home. This post was perfect for my Monday morning coffee time as I face another day surrounded by quarrelsome and bitter people. Thank you for spreading Hope and Peace and Joy*.

    1. Amy Young December 20, 2016

      Oh the family miscommunication can be so hard! Will be thinking of you all and praying peace and grace over your entire family.

    2. Polly December 20, 2016

      Angela, I agree with Amy…miscommunication IS hard and painful, especially with family. I pray that Jesus meets you in very redeeming ways in this grief and this place of uncomfortable waiting. May you find that His hope, peace and joy are renewed every morning in your heart as you walk alongside of your family.

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