God with us- what a comfort

Published 4:05 pm Friday, December 21, 2018

Sometimes we allow the lack of confidence to keep us from experiencing and enjoying things in life; the fear of failure can cheat us out of some tremendous opportunities.  But once confidence is gained, the fear of failure begins to diminish.  Our fourteen month old granddaughter finally gained enough confidence to experience what it is to walk all by herself.  It was apparent that Raegan had both the strength and mental capacity to get around on her own two feet, but she had to find out that she really could do it.  After a little coaxing, she finally got up the nerve to take a few steps; she now has it down firm and realizes that walking is more efficient—and more fun—than crawling.

She is discovering a lot of things right now.  Last week while at our house, she did not know that anybody was watching her as she made her way over to the Christmas tree.  Without letting her know I had my eye on her, I saw her little hand reach over and grab a roll of wrapping paper that was leaning against the wall and pull it to the floor.  As soon as it was down, she reached over and grabbed the other roll.  With both trophies in her possession, she started to unroll the colorful paper.  We stopped her before she went too far, but it is a joy watching her grow and discover the details and challenges of the world she lives in.

But even in the atmosphere of all the joy and excitement that comes with the celebration of this blessed season as we remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, there are some realities to deal with that are less than joyful.  I was reminded of that a few days ago as I stood by the grave of a dear friend who died five years ago at far too young of an age.  After placing some Christmas ornaments by his grave, I took a picture and sent to his family.  Madeline was quite small when her daddy died, but she still has a wealth of memories of him.  In a few minutes after texting the picture to them, I received a response back that said, “This is Madeline.  I really miss him so much.”  How do you respond to such a statement from a ten year old girl?  No amount of formal training or practical experience fully prepares one for such moments as that.  While there are no words that can relieve all her sorrow, the comfort and security that I will be there for her provides her an element of comfort that words alone cannot. 

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In the midst of the sadness and uncertainties that sometimes come our way as we travel the journey of life, one of the great sources of strength that we can always rely on is the abiding presence of God.  Long before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah looked ahead as the Spirit of God enabled him and spoke of the One to come who would bring hope to humankind.  He wrote, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, New International Version).  The New Testament reminds us that Immanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

What a comfort it is to know that we can trust God to be with us as we face the painful challenges of life.  As we celebrate this season with joy and happiness, we need to be careful not to forget that there are many who are going through pain and sorrow for a variety of reasons.  It might be that God will work through us to show them that God really does care about what affects them, and that He came to bring peace to the hearts of all who will trust in Him.  Every situation becomes more bearable when we remember that Christ was born that God might be with us.