Wonderful. There are so many wonderful words in our English language (pun intended). But I think it is kind of sad that these wonderful words have lost their wonder. What do I mean? Well, think about what each of those words means that I just listed.
Fantastic – notice the root word “fantasy.” When you say something is fantastic, you’re saying it’s too good to be true: it’s like the stuff of fiction. Awesome – notice the root word “awe.” When you say something is awesome, you’re saying that if fills you with awe. Same with marvelous – it makes you marvel. Same with wonderful – it leaves you wondering how something so good could have happened.
But nowadays, we’ve edited the wonder out of wonderful. Chocolate ice cream sundaes are advertised as marvelous. Sunglasses are tagged as awesome. Getting a good grade is fantastic. (Really? Getting good grades is the stuff of fantasy? Sunglasses fill you with awe?)
I started really thinking about this about two months ago, as I was reading through the Psalms. As I read, one verse in particular jumped out to me: Psalm 72:18.
“Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things!”
And I thought to myself, “Wow – only wondrous things?” I mean, I know that God is great and that all He does is good, but sometimes the things that He allows don’t seem exactly wonderful. But then the idea occurred to me that maybe I was misunderstanding the meaning of wondrous. Maybe wondrous isn’t just a synonym for “wonderful” and “great”.
So I pulled out our Strong’s concordance and looked it up. And lo and behold, I was right! “Wondrous” means “to separate, distinguish; to be great, difficult, wonderful.” Quite a range of definitions. It is translated into English as (among other things) “hidden,” “things too high,” “marvelous,” and “miracles.” I started to realize that “wondrous” is wonderful – without losing the wonder. Immediately I was reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)
So I decided to see what Hebrew word was used in that verse. Turns out it is another form of the one used for “wondrous.” But this time, there was not a whole list of possible definitions. There was just one:
Wow. That’s what I kept thinking.
“And His name will be called a Miracle….”
Doesn’t that just put a whole new meaning into that verse? We’ve lost the meaning of wonderful. But we haven’t lost the meaning of miracle yet. Of course Jesus is wonderful (even in our normal sense of the word), but He is also a Miracle – the Miracle of miracles. And I think that is more of the message that God was conveying through Isaiah to us.
I wish you all a wonderful – whoops, I don’t know if I quite mean that – I wish you all a great Christmas as you remember our Wonderful (yep, I mean it this time), Miracle Savior.