Most are familiar with the hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful. The first lyric is “Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!” But what if we don’t feel joyful or triumphant? We sing this song often during Advent –a season defined by waiting and longing and weighty hopefulness. I know about the importance of hope. I have been in a three-year long season of fighting for hope. My quest for hope has felt effortful, defiant, forced, and hostile even. Hostile hope… what a concept, like watching beautiful sunrises from a hopsital bed. I have felt like attacking the life factors trying to drag me down. In the midst of this hostile, defiant hope, I was introduced to the song Oh Come, All You Unfaithful a twist on the familiar classic. Below is the first verse:
O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone
O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done
Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you…
I have loved this song ever since I was introduced to it in 2020 when I had a broken foot, and was awaiting surgery — literally weak and unstable. I played it often in my car and could never get through the first verse without crying. It was too real and present. And yet hopeful. Christ is born. I will survive; there is more to life than my fracture and pain.
This year after having ovarian surgery and losing an organ, it felt like I was continuing the verse as my mind was filled with thoughts of being “barren and waiting.” I had to face fears of barrenness and sign surgical consent up to and including a total hysterectomy. The surgeon would make the call about what to remove when she was in my abdomen. Waiting and weary of praying, indeed.
Although I hope my story does not continue to sing the stanzas so specifically! I am thankful for this song and how it has spoken to me over the past three years especially with my unique experiences.
It was a gift to sing it at church today and both celebrate that I have successfully come through multiple surgeries and am not as weak and unstable as I was in 2020, and also to realize that there will again be a trial that makes me unsteady. The trial, the valley, the suffering, is not the end of the story. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, we are not alone, our pain will end, our choices of perseverance matters.
May I (and we all) cling to lyrics that remind us of truth in the midst of it life’s valleys. O Come, Emmanuel. Be with us.
Christ is born. See what your God has done… (hear the song and see the powerful music video on the link below)