Dec 10, 2013

Immanuel: God with Us!

There are a lot of devastating things in this world that cause us to ask:  WHERE IS GOD?  Where was God when I lost my child?  Where was God when I lost my job?  Where was God when I lost my house?  Where was God when the drunk driver hit that car?  If God was here, if God was real, then I wouldn’t be facing these things, right? …where is He?


 Where is God?  God is with us. That was the message of the very 1st Christmas so many years ago. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said that Joseph’s fiancé Mary was to have a baby.  But it wasn’t going to be just any baby, it was THE baby.  The Son of God, the promised Messiah.  And the angel said that he would be called Jesus, that he would save is people from their sins.  All this happened because of an old prophecy from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) that said that the Messiah would be called Immanuel.  Immanuel is a combination of Hebrew words meaning, “God with us.”  So Jesus was born, Immanuel came.  That night in Bethlehem God was literally and physically “with us.”

Immanuel means that God loved us so much that he would come and dwell among us.  He has firsthand experience with our pain, tragedy, and suffering.  He would walk through the same things we do and feel what we feel.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, illustrates the truth that God is with His People!  It shows that God is (and has always been) with us in every situation we face whether it be pain, grief, anger, frustration, unemployment, divorce, bankruptcy, poverty, illness, surgery, hurt, cancer, and even death. Immanuel is here to surround us with His love, encouragement, comfort, and His Spirit. 

Immanuel means that we don’t have to face the reality of pain, anger, lose, fear, or even death alone.  HE IS WITH US.  The baby that was born that night, the light of the world, is the one who continues to shine his light in our night.

We find Immanuel all through the scriptures:
Joshua 1:9 "Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go"
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Matthew 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That’s Immanuel!

St. Patrick said this…
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

You see, the Christmas reminds us that God is no stranger to our sufferings.  God understands our pain.  Rather than just answering our questions like “why does this happen?” from afar, he came down to us and walks with us through them.  He feels what we feel. 

We all have questions.  Good questions, real questions, valid questions.  We find ourselves getting overwhelmed by the questions, but let me encourage you to look past your questions, and pursue the One whose name means that HE IS WITH YOU.   You can ask your questions, but don’t for a second think that you are asking a cold heartless God, who has no clue what you are going though.  HE IS HERE AND HE KNOWS!  Reach out to Immanuel, He’s with you.

I once heard a story of a father, who had told his son he would send him to sleep in the attic, with only bread and water for his supper, if he broke the laws of the home once more.  (A little harsh if you ask me and the story is probably not true, but at look at what happened next)

The child disobeyed again and was sent to the attic to spend the night.  That evening the father could not eat. He had the boy on his mind and his heart. His wife said: "I know what you are thinking. But you must not bring the boy from the attic. It would cause him to disobey again. He would have no respect for your word. You must not cheapen your relation as his father by failing to keep your promise."

To which her husband replied: "You are right. I will not break my word. But he is so lonely up there." He kissed his wife good night, entered the attic, ate bread and water with the boy, and when the child went to sleep on the hard boards, his father’s arm was his pillow.

That is Immanuel.  That is God’s presence in our lives. That is one of the messages of Christmas.  That is why we can have hope in hard times.  God chose to suffer for us and with us, and He still chooses to suffer with us. 

So you can either focus on all the questions and as result come up empty and cold towards God, or you can reach out to the Immanuel, who understands and can heal your loss, who is with you.

Immanuel didn’t just come to sympathize with us and hold our hand.  He also came to answer our questions and heal our pain.  He came to deal with the fear, evil, sin, and death that haunts every one of us.  In fact, it is Immanuel’s suffering on the cross that is His ultimate answer to all the suffering we face!  The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that there will be an end to suffering, pain, death, and loss!

 Psalm 30:5 reminds us this “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” 

Pain and suffering won’t last forever…there is an end to it.  God has handled it through the cross of Immanuel and through the resurrection of Immanuel.  In his time the reality of his “handling it” at His cross will show up in your life, but until that perfect timing, remember that He is with you and He is here for you!  So bring your questions, bring your grief, bring your pain, bring your hurt, and bring your loss…HE IS IMMANUEL, HE IS WITH US!