Do you ever wonder why life with God is not easier? I mean, if God is good and He loves us, why are there so many problems, so much pain and so much dysfunction in our lives and families?
We are not promised an escape from a broken world, but we are given grace to endure it. And not just endure it, but to grow closer to God and experience his goodness in the midst of our brokenness.
And we do not have to endure it alone. God is with us. He is with us in the midst of our pain and messed up relationships. We can have peace – “a peace that passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7) - in the midst of a broken world.
This is what we see in Mary’s willing response to the rather shocking news that she’s going to give birth to, and raise, the Son of God – who will turn the world upside down, threaten kings and spiritual leaders – and make it difficult for Joseph and Mary to live anything close to a normal life. That is not an easy path. Her future path of difficulty is captured in Simeon’s remarks – “a sword will pierce your own soul as well” (Luke 2:35).
Yet, in the middle of the announcement to Mary the angel says “the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). She will not be alone in her pain and disappointment.
Immanuel. God with us. That’s the real deal for Christmas – it’s not about consumerism or amazing decorations or the perfect gift from Amazon– it’s about living each day with God.
“I will be with you.” Experiencing God in the middle of difficulty was familiar to many in the scriptures:
It’s what the Lord said to Gideon when he was charged with fighting the Midianites with only a handful of soldiers (Judges 6:12).
It’s what the Lord said to Moses when he was challenging Pharaoh to let Israel go (Exodus 3:12)
It’s what the Moses said before they crossed the Jordan (Deuteronomy 31:8)
It’s what the Lord said to Joshua after they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 1:5)
It’s what David wrote about God being with him in the shadow of death (Psalm 23)
May you experience the presence of God and his peace during this Christmas season in ways that transcend human understanding.