Advent–God abiding with us
by Lena Larson
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)
Advent—the season we celebrate the miraculous moment when God came to live among us, when He shared our human existence. It’s one of my favorite times of year but leading up to this particular advent my interactions with God have been haunted by a question. What about the years of silence? Was God less present with His people during the 400 years of silence that preceded Christ’s birth then He was the moment Immanuel arrived in the flesh?
The verses that promise Immanuel are repeated in both the Old and New Testaments, first by Isaiah and then by Matthew. But there’s another promise that’s repeated to both the Israelites and the early church: that God will never leave or forsake His people (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). And somehow in this moment the two promises seem at odds. I guess I’ve been feeling uncertain of God’s engagement with me and so my heart recoils from anything that hints at God being distant. The emphasis on Christ’s arrival seems to imply a former absence.
But, “no”, God gently says, “no”. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. It’s a wonderful unfolding of presence, upon presence, upon presence. God’s amazing omnipresence is complemented by Christ’s miraculous incarnation. And the miracle of the Word dwelling among us is completed by the gift of the Spirit dwelling within us.
And, yes, the unfolding of His story does involve stretches of silence. But the Presence is there, faithfully abiding with His people through it all.
“…and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV)
How are you currently experiencing God as either present or absent?
- Is there an aspect of God’s presence, either as Father, Son or Spirit that is especially meaningful to you at this point in time? What and why?
- Optional passages for meditation:
- Father – Psalms 16 or 18
- Son – John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 9:24-26
- Spirit – Acts 2:1-11
- Trinity – John 14: 23-27