December 23 I Monday
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him ‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).”
During this Christmas season, despite all the emphasis on joy and the Winter Wonderland fantasy, there is also a dark side to it. For some people, Christmas is the loneliest time of the year. More marriages come to a breaking point over the Christmas and New Year period than any other time of the year. In fact, there are more suicides after Christmas than any single time of the year. Memories of those we have loved and lost are intensified at Christmas. This is probably why some of us may not be looking forward to Christmas.
Yet, the very first Christmas two thousand years ago was also met with real pain, sorrow, disappointments and suffering. Beginning with the pregnancy of Mary while she was still a virgin, we could only imagine the reputation Mary carried for the rest of her adult life. Joseph was also humiliated and had planned to separate from Mary quietly. But this is where the story takes a turn: the angel of the Lord told Joseph to keep Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Hence, when the child was born, they called Him, “Emmanuel” meaning “God with us”––a reminder that Christmas is not about believing facts about a Jesus back in history or up there in heaven, but right here with us.
Christmas does not avoid the pain, nor does it refuse the joy; rather, it faces life head on with dependence on the presence and working of God in our lives and our circumstances. No matter where we are this Christmas, we can face it with confidence because the baby born in Bethlehem is sufficient today to rule and reign in the very center of our lives and circumstances to bring us peace, assurance, resources, strength and even joy.
The Bible is filled with stories of suffering, sadness and pain because often these are the very avenues where we witness God working and revealing His presence. The Christian life is not exempted from the traumas of life but we are equipped to go into them with all the resource of God Himself at our disposal because of “Emmanuel.”
With this Christmas season, would we consider sharing the wonderful message of “God with us” to those around us? Christmas can be a time of loneliness for so many people but the love of Christ can replace that loneliness and fill the emptiness with a power and a fullness that nothing on this earth can ever do. Who do we know in our life that needs to hear about “God with us?”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, no matter what circumstances I face, You are with me always. Thank You for being Emmanuel. Help me share this message of joy with those who need it this Christmas season.