“How long, LORD?” (Psalm 13:1).
This cry has echoed through the ages, from Adam and Eve to Simeon and Anna. For those who waited for the promise—men like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption must’ve seemed far off. Yet they saw by faith that the promise would come to pass.
At Christmas, we remember that the longing of the nations has been answered. Like Mary, we not only treasure the promise in our hearts, but we get to witness its fulfillment in Christ. He is Israel’s long-awaited consolation, the Messiah. Christ has come, and the bonds of sin and death have been broken; the dead are raised, and the blind see again. Although final fulfillment of glory awaits Christ’s return, we can have peace because He died, rose, ascended, and will come again.
Christmas is a time of great joy, but it can also be one of great sorrow. The sting of loss in a sinful world still plagues us, and even on the most festive days we can find ourselves asking, “How long, Lord?” We live in a prodigal world, and since Adam, we’ve squandered our inheritance, trying to invent our own paths to God. In seasons marked by joy, those hardships and losses stand in sharp contrast to the merriment we expect.
But sorrow is never the final note. Indeed, the birth of Christ, homeless and lying in a cattle trough, is the perfect picture of the gospel. Christ enters into a world weary with suffering, as a helpless baby in exile and poverty. In spite of this, the angels sing! The tired shepherds are startled and terrified by shouts of praise and triumph:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people he favors!” (Luke 2:14).
Old Simeon and world-weary Anna are met with hope and promise, not despair (vv.25–40). A world at war with God is not condemned, but offered God’s own favor and peace. Yes, Christmas, the arrival of our Lord, turns everything upside down. This upside-down, heavenly peacemaking is the only true way to peace on earth. The presents under the tree—the ones you are giving or receiving—do not give peace. But Jesus offers us true fellowship with God. He took on flesh to reverse the old enmity and demolish the dividing wall of sin. Christ came, walked beside us, and bore the burdens of the world, so that we might be partakers in the complete and utter joy of God (John 15:11). And what joy it is!
The peace of the world is always incomplete, but the peace of God surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Christ became one of us, so that He might make us more like Him, peacemakers and children of God. Therefore, with the shepherds, let us go and share the good news. Christ has come to us! This great joy is for all the people (Luke 2:10). The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of God and of His Christ!
Written by Caleb Faires