Immanuel, God With Us
A Devotional for Advent
But after he (Joseph) had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). –Matthew 1:20-23
One word that is often heard during this time of COVID quarantine—and the experience that much of the world’s population has had over these last nine months—is the word isolation. Human isolation can have far-reaching effects: physical, emotional, mental, psychological, and even spiritual effects. To a certain degree, how isolation affects us also has to do with our temperament and personality—whether we are an extrovert or an introvert, for example. The message of Advent and Christmas is good news, for no matter how isolated we may feel from God, the truth is that God has overcome that isolation.
When our daughter was about ten or eleven years old, she went through a stage of verbalizing the meaning and importance of what I will call connection. During this period, after a long day (for both her and me) she would often intentionally find me and say something to the effect of, “I haven’t seen you much today, Daddy. How has your day been?” Her yearning for connection warmed my heart and brought about significant times of conversation.
On a larger, eternal scale, what God did by sending His Son Jesus is a similar expression for connection. Jesus came, not as a judge, taskmaster, or despot, but as Immanuel, “God with us.” Consider that for a moment. The Almighty God, Creator of the universe, came to us when we were not even seeking Him; we were lost in our sin and unable to do anything to make the relationship right. Yet, He came…to us. And it isn’t that He was “God with us” way back then; He is still “God with us” today. No matter our situation, He is God with us.
We may feel isolated due to our current pandemical situation, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus—Immanuel, God with us—is speaking an invitation from God. We may feel far from God, but He has drawn near. This Christmas season may we hear the Lord saying to us, “My child, I know your struggles and your difficulties; I know the distance between us. But I am with you.”
Perhaps a question to ponder might be, “Where do I need the Lord to be with me at this time in my life?” What might that look like? Talk with the Lord about that this Advent season.