by: Kerri Young
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
With Christmas coming up next week, I wanted to write a post about Immanuel: God with us. But, between a household of puking adults and children and the tragic events at the end of last week, I have struggled to come up with a blog post that flows or comes together in a coherent way. So, I apologize, sweet friends, for this kind of jumbled group of thoughts. However, I have prayed and will trust the Holy Spirit to use my mesh of words for His glory and to minister to some of you as He sees fit.
“’Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-12
Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that God chose to kick off His plan of redemption for the world by sending the King of Kings as a tiny baby? And at that, a tiny baby born in a barn and not a palace or even a home. Whoever would have expected such a thing?
But that’s exactly the thing I love about my God. He is a God of the unexpected and He delights in working in ways that might seem crazy and illogical to us. The Israelites waited in silence for around 400 years for the promised Messiah, and I can almost guarantee none of them would have dreamed God would deliver them the way He did. Whatever you are waiting on or experiencing right now that doesn’t make sense, just lay it down and trust the same God who sent His Son to be born in a barn by a young teenage girl has it under control.
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” Luke 2:6-7
And speaking of that young teenage girl…. I think having grown up in the Christian church and having heard the story of Christmas since I was old enough to listen, I sometimes don’t take the time to truly ponder the fact that Jesus was a baby who was actually birthed by a living, breathing woman.
As such, I could never identify with Mary, the mother of Jesus, very much until I became a mom. And then, all of the sudden, the majesty of the moment Mary looked into her baby’s eyes for the first time and not only fell in love with her child but beheld her Savior just became more personal to me. Can you even begin to imagine the joy and awe she must have felt all in one instant? It takes my breath away to think about it….
Jesus was just as much Mary’s Savior as He is ours. And the amazing thing is that we can experience that same joy and awe, even in the midst of the darkest storm, if we will only look into our Savior’s eyes.
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5
Whatever hardship you are experiencing right now, I want to encourage you to find shelter from the wind and the rain in Jesus’ loving arms. He might not quiet the storm or completely take away the pain that comes with life’s deepest tragedies, but He will provide you with peace that surpasses understanding, hope to go on living, and joy to ease your mourning if you look to Him.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” Isaiah 61:1-3
For those of you who have never come to a place of decision concerning what you are going to do with this baby who was born in a barn over 2000 years ago: there has never been a better time than today to ask Jesus to become your Lord and Savior.
There is so much in this world that just seems hopeless; and there is only one thing that is certain and can be counted on. One thing that provides hope, peace, and joy in the midst of life’s storms: Jesus Christ.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would experience the inexplicable joy and peace that come from having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have never made that commitment, I encourage you to go here and learn how you can do so right now.
Finally, I want to leave you with this. My pastor read a poignant prayer this morning at church that was written by Max Lucado in response to the shootings in Connecticut.* I wanted to share it with you today because it speaks so much more eloquently than I could to what has been on my heart since Friday.
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.