During this Christmas season I once again marvel at the truth presented in this Bible verse:
“…and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Matthew 1:23 NIV
Too often I take this truth for granted. And I forget to meditate on the wonder of it.
God, the maker and ruler of the universe, chose to come in human form to be with us–with me.
There is nothing on this earth that can measure up to that. If President Obama called me on the telephone and said, “I’m coming to live with you,” it would be amazing and extraordinary–and weird.
We in our town would be saying, “Can you believe the president is here with us?”
But that is small in comparison to “God with us.”
God calling us up through the prophets and announcing “I’m coming to be with you” and then doing it is above anything that has happened in history before or since, except for the resurrection.
Still I take it for granted. I think it’s because I’ve heard the story of Jesus’ birth over and over. Perhaps this is why Jesus tells us to become as little children. Maybe then we can appreciate the wonder of the Christmas story.
We in this century didn’t have the privilege of meeting Jesus in human form and yet He is still with us. He promised that before He left the earth:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20 NIV
Even though that promise is in the Word in Matthew and other places, because of discouragement over situations I can’t control and disappointment over my own and other’s sinfulness, I often feel alone–like God is not with me–that He has deserted me.
My feelings tell me He believes the negative opinions others at times have of me and has decided I’m not worth being with. Or I feel He’s weary of my repeated sinning and has decided to be only with those who are living exemplary Christian lives.
Because people have abandoned me at times, my soul still won’t let go of the belief that God might do it too.
When those moments come, like one did yesterday, deep in my soul there is a whisper, “I am still with you.”
In times past I didn’t hear that whisper, and I would sink deeper and deeper into loneliness and depression. Isolating from others seemed the only thing to do, which made matters worse. Backing away from God was another wrong choice I made because I didn’t feel His presence in my times of pain.
Often I still don’t–even when I draw near.
In his book, Prayer Philip Yancey says, “When I am tempted to complain about God’s lack of presence, I remind myself that God has much more reason to complain about my lack of presence. I reserve a few minutes a day for God, but how many times do I drown out or ignore the quiet voice that speaks to my conscience and my life?”
I get into trouble spiritually when I convince myself my feelings are telling me the truth.
The truth is God is with me, no matter how I feel, no matter what other people’s opinions of me are, no matter how hard life is. The truth is that although I may sometimes feel alone, I never am.
And so as I once again believe this whisper from God, I contemplate the miracle of God being with me always.
Today I celebrate the wonder of who Jesus is: Emmanuel, God with us. Emmanuel, God with me.
“You’re Here” by Francesca Battistelli
This post was first posted on December 17, 2010. The song is a new one–one of my favorites of this Christmas season.