The Israelites had waited for centuries for their Messiah (read: rescuer) to show up and free them from bondage and right the wrongs in their lives. When He did show up, however, He did not look anything like the kind of rescuer they had expected. He was not the great and mighty conqueror they had hoped would install a new Israelite kingdom like the ones of old.
When Jesus showed up on the scene, the Israelites were a battered and defeated group of people who clung to the stories of their old kings and the promise of a new kingdom.
And Jesus did bring about a new kingdom that lacked the brokenness and injustices of this world, but it did not come they way they had expected it.
He did not come the way they had wanted Him to.
Sometimes, when our prayers get answered and our hopes are realized - things look nothing like what we had expected or envisioned.
For our family, we have been praying about international missions for years and now as we have stepped into this exciting new chapter of our lives - it looks a lot different than what we had thought.
When we exchanged vows four and half years ago, we never could have imagined moving to West Africa with a young son in the final month of 2017.
In many ways, our hopes for ourselves and our views of God were too small.
And now God is answering our prayers and shattering our expectations in ways we never could have imagined.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, we do so in sunny Dakar, Senegal, where the temperature is a "brisk" 76 degrees Fahrenheit. In our first three weeks here in Dakar, we have started to fall in love with the culture and people (and food!) here in Senegal.
But of course, not everything is roses and sunshine. Somedays have left us completely exhausted from simply learning how to navigate to and through a grocery store. There have been frustrating moments and a couple tears.
Yet, we see on a daily basis proof that this is what God has called to.
We have seen the Church at work here in West Africa. We have worshipped in multiple languages with Christians from around the globe. We have been invited into countless numbers of peoples homes.
God has shown us time and time again that He is answering our prayers and fulfilling our hopes.
We could never have guessed the answer to our prayers would be in a French-speaking, Muslim-majority country that is full of hospitality, peace, and kindness. But our hopes have been realized.
And that is what we are thankful for this Christmas.
Christmas is about hope that has been realized. It is about answered prayers. And it is about a God who literally got on our level by arriving in the most unassuming way.
We hope that you are also able to take some time this Christmas and reflect on how God has - or is - answering your hopes and prayers.
That is the beautiful reminder of Christmas: Our God is a hope-fulfiller.
May your Christmas be filled with love and gratitude.
And may you be reminded that our God is the God who knows you deeply, loves you unconditionally, and will fulfill your hopes.
Even if it is in the most unassuming, unexpected ways.
From our family to you -
-Jeremy, Reetu, and Zane