All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:22-23
There are moments in our lives when we don’t want to be alone. Sometimes they are joyous moments, like birthdays and weddings. Sometimes they are jarring moments, like court appointments and doctor consultations. We all have times that we want someone, anyone, to say, ‘I’ll be right there,” or “I’ll be right beside you.” This year, as it unfolded, reminded me that we need one another.
We need others to share the pains of life. We all need a shoulder to cry on when we hear tragic personal news: a corneal condition, a cancer diagnosis, a death in the family. We all need the feel of a warm embrace when we hear tragic public news: a bombing a few miles from home, a shooting in few blocks from the church, an earthquake halfway around the globe. Whether the suffering is widespread or intimate, it effects us and we want to be surrounded by a company of those who care about us and care for us.
We want others to share the joys of life. We all would like to cheer the home team on to a world championship with a group of likeminded revelers. Most of us would appreciate someone else watching us blow out the candles on the birthday cake or drinking a cup of eggnog around the Christmas tree. Whether it is preschool graduations, crew regattas or a ‘court of awards’, we long to have others near when we are being publicly recognized. It is likely that we share our pictures and our posts on social media because we long for another sole to cherish the things we cherish.
If there is anything God knows – and God knows A LOT – He knows what we need. We need companionship, relationship, fellowship. It would be great if we always had someone with us when we fell or frowned, when we teared up or were torn down, when we were exalted or excited, and when we were celebrating or celebrated. We all know, however, that there have been times that we have cried alone and been crowned alone – or we felt like we were alone. The facts of Scripture tell us that we are not, either on the peaks or in the valleys. Jesus, the promised one, is named “Emmanuel”, which means ‘God with us’. He is with us! And if that were not enough, Jesus – the ‘with us’ God – promised that when He went to the Father he would send us another, the Holy Spirit, who would never leave us alone.
The celebration of Christmas is over, but the blessing remains: God is with us! I pray that every day of the next year finds you surrounded by caring and compassionate souls. Whether it happen or not, I also pray that we all remember on those trying days and those triumphant days that God is with us, with a shoulder to cry on or with a hand with which to pat us on the back.