You can celebrate Christmas morn with new joy because He—God Himself—has come to be with you. In His magnificent company, though you may be down and out, you are not without.
"'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means 'God with us').'" Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
I woke to the cooing of my 8-month-old son in need of a dry diaper and a bottle. By the time I got to his room, I was fully awake to my reality. It was Christmas morning. Sigh. I had dreaded the arrival of this day.
It was the first Christmas after my husband's death.
Most of my days consisted of loneliness and grief. I knew facing the holidays would be worse. I felt so alone.
My heart was joyless. There was no one to wish a Merry Christmas. No gifts to open. No celebration. For me, it was just another ordinary day of going through the motions. I'd care for my son and try to survive the grief and loneliness.
Have you ever been this lonely? Your situation may not be like mine, but I do know during difficult times God often feels distant. Uncaring. Unresponsive. Unaware. And yet, Psalm 139:7 challenged my feelings that Christmas Day.
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" (NIV)
The Psalmist was clear. God is everywhere. There is nowhere I can go that God is not already there.
As I pondered this truth, hope began to rise in my heart. I am never alone because God is with me in every situation, good or bad.
Isn't this the message of Christmas — God is with us? Isn't this the essence of our faith — God is with us?
Perhaps this is what inspired Matthew to write our key verse: "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means, 'God with us.')" (Matthew 1:23).
That name, Immanuel, holds great significance for you and me.
This Name tells us Christ didn't come that holy night to say "well done." He didn't come to pat us on the back or encourage us for just a time. He came to stay. God came to dwell among us and to reside within us forever.
Sure, God has always been with us, but this truth took on a whole new meaning when Jesus was born. The astounding truth of Christmas is that God put on human flesh and became one of us. A babe, lying in a manger, was proof He had come and His name was the message. God is with us in human form. Immanuel became one of us and suffered as we suffer so that He might understand our pain. So that He might know how to comfort and help us.
That's not all. This baby Jesus didn't come only to walk among us. He came to deliver us and set us right with God. The coming of Jesus meant God the Father had now sent His Son to deliver the world from sin.
What does this mean for you and me? It means no matter the challenge, you are not alone. Whatever your need — deliverance, strength, hope — Immanuel is present. He is not some far-off God. He is right there beside you this very moment.
My days grew brighter as I looked for God's company amidst my pain. Eventually, I no longer trudged through ordinary days because my extraordinary God met me at my point of need. The secret is this. The more I learned to acknowledge His presence, the more of His presence I experienced. You can, too.
No matter where you are this Christmas Eve, you are not alone.
You may feel alone. It may appear that you are alone. But Christ is there with you. He sees you. He understands. And He can help you.
Tomorrow can be different. You can celebrate Christmas morn with new joy because He — God Himself — has come to be with you. In His magnificent company, though you may be down and out, you are not without. You are not without His love or His all-sufficient strength. You are not without His safety. You are not without His care or provision. And you are not without His presence.
This is the best news of all. Immanuel, God is with us!
Lord, Thank You for your promised presence. I can move forward in faith knowing You are with me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:5b, " ... because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How will you respond to the Christ child this Christmas?