Deadlines. Exams. School projects. Schedules to organize. Meals to prepare. Cards to send out. Decorating. Shopping. Cleaning. Baking.
The list goes on and on.
And honestly, for me sometimes Christmas becomes…
A deadline to meet rather than a Savior to meet.
A sprint to fit in all the gatherings rather than an occasion to rejoice and exalt the One who loved me and the world so much He sent His own Son to be born as a baby, to live, die, and come back to life so that I can have eternal life…abundant life…a life of hope…a life enveloped in His love.
A season to try to get through sane and in one piece instead of a season to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace…the One who is our peace and the Giver of peace.
This year, as each day moves a little closer to Christmas, I have a desire for Christmas to be more than a marathon of events to get through and instead for it to be a time of reflection…of joy…of thanksgiving…of wonder in the One who is my God, my Savior and my Lord.
And so, as I have been reading through Scripture and different Christmas and Advent readings, the eyes of my heart have become captured by one simple verse…
And a virgin shall be with childe and bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23 NKJV).
Immanuel. God with us.
Such simple words, yet such a magnificent truth.
Just what does that mean?
Who is this God who is with us?
He is El Shaddai, Lord God Almighty. He is the One who made a covenant with Abraham – an everlasting promise to his descendants – and yet, who waited until it was impossible for Abraham or Sarah to have children. It was at this point of impossibility that He chose to give to them Isaac, the son of promise. When Sarah laughed at the seemingly ludicrousness of her having a child, God said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
No, it isn’t, for He is the Lord God Almighty.
Romans 4 speaks of this God in whom Abraham had placed his faith, and because his hope was in the Lord God Almighty he was able to against all hope in hope believe, even though he was fully aware of the facts that his body and Sarah’s were as good as dead when it came to having the ability to have children. Instead of using this as an opportunity to doubt and waver in his faith regarding the promise of God, he was strengthened in his faith as he gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that “what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:21).
As I reflect on this name of Immanuel, God – El Shaddai, Lord God Almighty – who is with us, I am convicted, encouraged and strengthened. Convicted for I know that there are times when facing the truth of impossible situations, I find myself wavering between faith and doubt. In my head I know and believe that He is Lord God Almighty, but in my heart I wonder if God will be able to perform what He has promised?
You know, I think one of the reasons God brings us into periods of impossibility is so that what I know to be true of Him in my head can take root in my heart where faith resides for it is in impossible situations that head knowledge becomes heart faith. Through difficulties and trials and situations in which there seems to be no solution, I come to know that there really is nothing too hard for the Lord, because He is…
The Lord God Almighty.
As my faith in the Lord God Almighty takes root I am also encouraged to against all hope, in hope believe, for my hope is in Him…
The Lord God Almighty.
And as faith and hope grow, I am strengthened to endure…to press on…to wait patiently…to take heart, because…
The Lord God Almighty is able to do – and He will do – all that He has promised.
This is the God who is with us.
This is our Immanuel.