|Photo taken from 'The Nativity Story' (IMDB.com)|
There is a longing within the human heart for the Hebrew concept of Shalom, when peace reigns and all is right with the world. Our hearts ache for something better as we grapple with the heartbreak, pain and death that life often brings our way. We wonder if we are all alone is this world that we inhabit. We question if there is someone greater than us that sees and cares and will respond to our needs.
The birth of the baby Jesus answers this query. The angel that foretold his birth said that He would be known as Immanuel, which means "God with us." Previous to the birth of Christ, God's Spirit was present but in a much different way. With the coming of Christ (Advent), God took on human flesh -- the incarnation -- and came to live among us. He experienced what we experience and saw what we see. He experienced pain. He knew hunger and tiredness. He lived under an oppressive regime. He even went through a painful death. He endured the same kind of temptations and struggles that we do, but didn't sin. It's quite amazing once you stop and think about it.
The fact that "God is with us" means that there is hope. We do not walk through life alone. Even with economic challenges, the unjust deaths of children, women and men and the threat of war ever before us, our God is among us. His Spirit is present and He lives within those that are His true followers. As I think about the uncertainty that tomorrow brings, I take comfort in the reality of Immanuel.
One of my favorite modern Christmas songs is Our God is With Us from Steven Curtis Chapman's first Christmas album, The Music of Christmas. May the truths contained in this video bring peace to your heart.