I remember the first time I really started talking to God. I was 14. I would get up super early each day. It would be before the sun even broke through the morning sky, and I would write down everything that was on my heart. What I remember the most, is the essence of my prayers. They carried a thread that began to weave a greater story than I knew. And, it all started with hope in one thing:
That I wasn’t alone here.
I so desperately wanted to know that God was actually with me in this. That what I was going through was somehow seen and the prayers I prayed were somehow heard…that this road I was walking was somehow marked by God’s knowing and presence.
Eight and a half years later, I still feel the same tug of hope tucked in the moments of my life. Despite my life being marked by His faithfulness, I sometimes still wonder, are you with me in this, God?
One of the beautiful things about this season upon us is remembrance. The remembrance and celebration of redemption being born in Jesus. This time of year can bring moments of excitement and joy along with tinges of hard things and hopeless feelings mixed into our hearts. There can be questions fueled by “God, where were you?” or declarations of “God, thank you for all that you’ve done!”
So, wherever you are in this place, I want to remind you about the promise of Immanuel. The birth of God’s nearness.
Isaiah 7:10-14 says,
“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah was written long before any of us were born, and he prophesied that God’s miracle sign for His people would be a child named “God with us.” The promise of this prophesy in Isaiah declares the heart of God. His presence is not distant, hope in Him isn’t frail, and miracles of redemption are His business.
Isaiah declares the prophesied promise, and the gospel is the promise come.
Matthew 1:20-25 says,
“But as [Joseph] considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
God was faithful to His promise, and His promise has always been His nearness. We actually get to experience the fullness of His nearness, strength in hope and miracles of redemption through being Children of God.
The seasons we go through tend to ask us to either praise God for His goodness or question Him for His followthrough. Too often, I look at previous seasons, see the blooms and kick my feet at the dirt I’m in now. What’s to come of this land, this place, this position? What beauty can come from this? Sometimes I ask that last question in awe and wonder and other times I ask it like this is bitter water and what redemption could truly make this sweet?
But remember Immanuel. Remember the promise of God. Remember the faithfulness of our King who stands by us and by His word to us.
He is near.
Who God is, is stronger than any circumstance, season, or experience we go through. So, who we know Him to be matters more than we know. When our seasons beg us to choose between praise or doubt, would we draw near to our ever present Redeemer.
He is with us. He is Immanuel.
And that is worth our every praise.
I want to challenge us. As we begin to reflect on this year and celebrate the beauty of our King being born, would we remember the nearness of God in the midst.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your son to us. Thank You for drawing near and for promising Yourself to us. You change everything, Jesus. You change everything. Where I doubt, where I fear, where I question Your nearness, align my heart with Your truth. Open my eyes to see where You’ve been; open my eyes to see where You are now. Soften my heart to receive what You have to say over me. You are with me, God. You were with me then; You are with me now. Give me the strength and boldness to walk out in faith what You’ve promised me. Amen.
Author | Emily Goldin