Advent–God abiding with us
by Sarah Bentley
“And they will name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23, NET)
Christmas was long-anticipated this year. People started talking about it in October. And as someone who routinely puts up her tree on the first of November, even that was a little early for me. But I get it.
Christmas time brings hope.
And we all need some extra hope this year. When England locked down for the second time, I found myself asking Jesus so many questions. When will this all end? How will it get better? What else will go wrong before then?
God’s whisper answered me: “Remember my captive Israel.”
And in my mind’s eye, I quickly drew up a picture of the suffering right before Jesus was born. I’m sure they were asking God questions too. When will the Messiah come? How will He rescue us? How will we survive until then?
And even when He did arrive, no one knew. Except some shepherds. And some weird wise men. Jesus came in under the radar. But the point is that He came. Hope came. And not only did He come, but He stayed. He experienced the turmoil and He faced the world with them. He chose to abide among them.
God is reminding me that as He came to live with his people then, He came to live with me now. He stays under the radar a lot, but He’s here to stay. He has a greater plan. But until I can see it, He is facing the turmoil of the pandemic with me. I think that is the greatest gift Jesus offers us. That He is with us in our waiting. He is both our rescue and our captivity companion.
My favourite Christmas song is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It was always my favourite, even before I followed Jesus. I think I was moved by the ache for hope, and the rejoicing because it is coming. There is a certainty in choosing to rejoice, even if the hope hasn’t quite arrived. So the song has been on a lot in our house. I grab my tea, sit by the window, and welcome the company of my saviour as I listen to a melodic reminder that I’m not the first to long for a God who is already here.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV)
- In what areas of your life do you find yourself searching for more hope?
- What ways can you rejoice in the hope that is already with you, while honouring the longing for more?