be • hold : see or observe a thing or person, especially an impressive one
Behold, your King is coming.
Behold, a Saviour is born.
Behold, Hope incarnate lives among us.
Behold. See Him. Acknowledge Him.
2016 was a long year. It was filled with personal heartbreak and disappointment, national frustration and anxiety, and global terror and confusion. It seems as if each week the headlines shared a different issue: shootings, racial tension, terror attacks, civil wars, refugee crises, political unrest. We saw leaders behaving immaturely, social media promoting and arguing over which cause is more valid, and too many posts offering prayers for yet another tragedy. It was unrelenting.
All year long I've been in a place of fully understanding that God is still sovereign over all of it, but not truly believing that He is still good in the midst of our dysfunction. I imagine Him as distant, hands off, letting us ruin our societies and personal lives without any intervention from Him.
I knew who He was and what He promises, but I could not see or observe Him here in my reality.
It is not until the season of Advent that I remember that God was never distant. He was never hands off. He has not been sitting in the background, shaking His head at our numerous mistakes and refusing to offer comfort in our many disappointments.
Instead, I must choose to remember that He is near now, and He was near throughout the entire year. I remember that He comes to us constantly in our messy lives and broken world, just as He came to Earth all those years ago in a manger. Sometimes I imagine that when Jesus was born, the world was in a better condition than it is now. I forget that this was not the case.
This year at our candlelight service we sang a song full of hope, in somber tones, reminding me that Jesus came to the world when it was just as broken and hurting as ours is today.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
God came in the midst of a broken and hurting world all those years ago, just as He continues to come to our broken and hurting world now. Nothing has changed, nothing is different, and His hope is continually accessible and alive, if only we would see it. If only we would behold it.
Zechariah 9:9 prophesies Jesus' birth, and also gives us a framework to expect His return. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you. He is just and endowed with salvation..." (NASB).
Behold, your King is coming to you. Just as He came, born of a virgin. His presence and nearness did not end there. That was only the beginning.
And so we sing:
Glory to the light of the world
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who've prayed
For all who wander
Behold your King
Maybe we're still waiting, and praying, and wandering. The end of this year has not brought anymore resolution to the problems and challenges we discovered throughout it. And yes, Jesus came, and yes, He is coming again, but this does not mean anything is restored right now. And we must determine how we ought to live right now.
Advent invites us to turn back to our Saviour, God with us, and behold His hope, His mercy, and His peace. Advent invites us to see true glory in a dark, dark world. Advent gives us better hope for living right now, as we wait for His return again.
The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
O come, O come, Emmanuel