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As Christmas approaches, we reflect on and remember Christ’s identity as the Emmanuel; “God with Us”. This is such a simple-sounding promise that it has sometimes become an afterthought but it has a great and profound significance in our lives that goes beyond its lexicon. Our writer Elaine contemplates what it means to truly know that God is always with us.
Would you agree with me that life is a series of challenges, heartaches, trials, and difficulties? And have you ever felt so helpless and lost during your struggles? If your answer is yes to the questions above, then you are on board the same ship as a good majority of us. When the storms of life come our way, and the ship we are sailing in seems to be breaking apart, we cower in fear and brace ourselves for the worst possible scenario.
And we feel alone.
The raging wind, torrential rain, and mighty waves overwhelm us, and we lose sight of the Holy One that has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. In desperation, we try to cling to anything that we believe will keep us afloat for fear that the ship is going down. We forget that we have a Captain on board with us and He has absolutely everything under His control.
Through His Word, God reminds us repeatedly that He is always with us and that He is our present help in time of need. He is always fully present with us. It is stated in Matthew 1:23 that when the angel Gabriel appeared before Joseph he said, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.” The name Immanuel means God is with us.
Often when we are told that God is with us, we dismiss it casually. It is something that we keep at the back of our minds, like an afterthought. We perceive His presence on a surface level, never digging deep to discover the nuggets of truth of what it means for God to be with us. And by doing so, we do ourselves a disservice when we fail to realise the significance of Immanuel, God is with us.
God Is with Us at Our Crossroads
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16.
Have you ever reached a point in your life where you were at a loss over which is the right direction to pursue? If yes, welcome to the Club of Crossroads in which we have lifetime memberships. Sooner or later, each of us will reach a point in our lives where we are in a state of confusion and are at our wit’s end in trying to make the right decision. A million questions accompany every possible decision with fear crouching at the door. This is where we need to remember that God is with us at every crossroads in our lives. And in Him lies the right paths, the right strategies, and the right solutions. Isaiah 30: 21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it”. When we seek Him, we can rest assured that He hears us and will guide us through the maze in our lives.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalms 32:8.
God Is with Us When We Are Hurting
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18.
When we are nursing a broken heart and our spirits have dived deeper than the ocean, God is with us amid it all. The deep wounds that we sustain in our hearts are not visible to the world but are visible to God. He longs to heal us. God is not in the business of just applying a band-aid on our wounds. He wants to do a work of deep inner healing and lift our spirits higher than the mountains. Extend Him an invitation to heal your hurting heart. Trust Him for the healing process and do not allow your hurts to turn into a deep festering wound that will poison your whole life. The hurts and brokenness will heal one day, and those wounds will turn to scars. Scars that will serve as a testimony of His healing grace in your life.
Even when it feels like we cannot pass through another day with the multiple fractures sustained, we can because He will carry us through it. He is with us through the pain and we will come out on the other side stronger than before.
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147: 3
God Is with Us When We Are Fearful
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43: 1-2
Fear is a familiar emotion that we are all accustomed to and it can range from a minor fear for that hideous-looking cockroach to a more severe form of high-level anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. (Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer once said, “Phobia is like fear on steroids”.) Do you know that our Heavenly Father understands every one of our fears? He also understands how prone we are to fear “for He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalms 103; 14. We are reminded 365 times in the Bible to take courage in Him and not to be fearful. His constant encouragement are reminders that fear is inevitable in life and that we can overcome it through Him.
Personally, there was a period in my life that I suffered from panic attacks. Without any warning or any trigger factors, a great sense of panic would swoop down on me where I would struggle to breathe and where I felt like I was losing my mind. I had an urgent need to scream as I felt like the walls were closing in on me. My spiritual toolbox to manage this difficult time in my life was to think of a certain memory verse and keep repeating it till the episode would pass. Sometimes I would be so utterly helpless I could only call on God and say “Lord, help me!” repeatedly. The interesting part of this panic attack season in my life was that God prepared me for it. I was in church one day when the Lord impressed upon my heart these words:
“I am going to see you through it.”
I was greatly puzzled because the panic attacks had not descended upon my life then. I kept wondering to myself, “see me through what?”. I had no major pressing issues in my life and I was as happy as can be. Shortly after that, the panic attacks started, and the torment began. It was midway during my fight against panic attacks that I remembered what God had told me earlier. It dawned upon me then that He was with me and that I was going to overcome the panic attacks. God knew that the storm was on its way and graciously gave me the assurance that I was going to be ultimately delivered even before it had begun.
“The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.?” Psalm 27:1
Beloved, God holds us close to His heart. He is not an absent God who only inclines His ear towards us when we call out to Him and He is most certainly not merely a bystander observing our lives. We are most precious to Him. He is right with us and His eyes are always upon us. He is fully present to love, guide, protect, deliver, heal, comfort, and help us. His presence with us is an echo of His great love for us. He will never give up on us and His love will cross boundaries that no human love can.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness, with the New Year a season of new beginnings. But I do believe that for some of us, it is a time where the heart aches even more, and the mind struggles to stay at peace. I do not know what are the personal battles that you are currently fighting on home ground. It could be a spouse walking out on you, a sick child, the loss of a job, a betrayal from a trusted friend, a mental health challenge, or something else. Whatever your battle is, be encouraged that the reason for Christmas is the same reason that you can take assurance that You are never alone.
He is Immanuel, God with us.
From our home to yours, we wish you a very Blessed Christmas, and may you enter the year 2021 with the Assuring Knowledge of His Unfailing Love and Presence in your life!
About the Writer
Born and bred in Penang and still currently residing in the Pearl of the Orient, Elaine loves reading, dogs, and taking walks on the beach. She also has a thing for Sunrises and Sunsets. Writing is something that she is passionate about and it brings her inexplicable joy. Elaine believes that every life experience should be effective agents of change to make us better people on this earth.
We went on a mission trip to Cambodia in 2018 with Malaccan friends Michelle and her daughter Annabelle and got to know their unusual family. They home-school all their children and besides academic subjects, they also teach them skills to earn money for their wants and needs such as going for holidays. Annabelle shares her views on how these skills are imparted…
God’s Everlasting Grace. My Daughter Has Scoliosis! by Lynn Foo, Contributed by Damansara Utama Methodist Church Probably nothing can ever come close to a mother’s