Everyday Christmas #23: Emmanuel

One of our deepest fears is to be alone. It’s scary to be by yourself, whether that means going through life or standing up in a crowd that’s sitting down or walking down the street at night. Even for introverts who would rather stay in with a good book than go to a party, we like to know that there’s someone there to back us up, someone we can rely on.

God could have left us alone. Once he created us and gave us companionship, and we thanked him by eating of the tree he said we shouldn’t eat from, he could have left us on our own to navigate life and death as best we could.

That would not have gone well.

And so, for no other reason other than that it gave him pleasure, God decided not to leave us alone.

He decided to send a redeemer, and not just any redeemer, but his own son. He chose a people from whom his son would come, and he sent prophets over the centuries who foretold the coming Christ. They even told the people what the redeemer’s name would be: Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

It’s right there in the name – he wasn’t going to leave us alone.

But then, for 400 years, he went dark. The people waited and wondered and cried out:

O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the son of God appear …

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadow put to flight

They were afraid, and they were alone, facing the shadow of a death they couldn’t avoid.

But then, after endless days and sleepless nights, a few angels appeared to some lowly shepherds on a hillside and everything changed.

The prophecies were now reality, and God was not just another false prophet. He had kept his promises. His people were no longer alone on the Earth – he was with them in a real, tangible way.

He was with them in human form for 33 years before he was called home, but he when he left, he sent the Holy Spirit as our helper because he knew it was not good for us to be alone.

God is with us. It’s as true today as it was when Mary held him in her arms on a cold night in a stable. All around you may seem dark, and you may think you’re alone, but God has come, and he is with you.

If you think you’re failing as a parent, he is with you.  If the details of life threaten to overwhelm you, he is with you. If the suffering doesn’t stop, he is with you. If your family is gone, he is with you. If the news is bad, he is with you.

And if the news is good and the sun is shining and all seems right with the world, he is with you then, too. You’re not alone, in good times or bad.

God is with us. This incredible truth should lead to one response:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel

Emmanuel came, and now we wait for him to come again and reign as the Prince of Peace – but we don’t wait alone.

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