Sunday, December 11, 2011

Immanuel (God with us) and what it means now

Feeling a bit discouraged this holiday season? (or anytime of the year?) Check out this article on Immanuel

I read it last year and I read it throughout the year but especially at Christmas on moments when I forget how much the Lord must love us to send his son.  Our Lord knows suffering and he is there with us in our suffering.  I tend to focus on Christ's second advent and how it affects me eternally --- Christ's return will usher in an eternity with Him.  But, I should also focus on how Christ's first advent affects me in the here and now.  How while we live on this earth, suffering fear, abandonment, grief, anger, heartache, we have a Savior who understands.... and hurts with us...because He was one of us....

an excerpt from that article....

"We can begin to assume that God isn’t interested in the light and momentary affliction we face.  We tell ourselves that He is not the kind of God that would be concerned with the details of our suffering.
And we would be wrong.
Jesus – in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell – wrapped Himself in skin and suffered like me and you so that in our worst pain and moments of suffering we would know the truth.  God doesn’t scoff at the smallness of our pain.  God meets us in the intimate details of our pain.  God is with us even in the smallest hurts.
In our deepest pain, lies creep in and lead us to turn away from the only source of comfort.  We listen to the whisper that God does not understand the pain of abandonment or rejection; that He is frustrated with our pathetic inability to trust in the bigger picture;  God can’t possibly know what it feels like to be tempted to doubt His goodness in lonely nights or when tragedy strikes.
And Christmas is the evidence that these whispers are lies.  Christmas is the great glowing ebeneezer that reminds us we don’t have a God who wants us to just ‘get over it’.  We have a God who understands how rough this world can be because He lived it.
We have a God who came down and suffered with us.  Our God is the only being who never had to suffer; He’s the only person who never had to experience any pain, and yet He willingly endured the most horrific pain imaginable.  Why? So that in the moments when we are most tempted to despair in the face of our suffering we can go to Him, messy and broken and confident that He can help.
We have a high priest who understands because He too has endured suffering.  He knows about lonely painful nights.  He knows about losing loved ones.  He knows about being rejected and abandoned and forsaken.  He knows about the moments when you look around and everything seems to be going wrong.  He knows about faces flung heavenward, begging for another way.  He knows about the weight of suffering.  Look to the Cross; He knows."
Or as CS Lewis said in the Chronicles of Narnia:
"But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?"
Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. 
SO, while struggling, while hurting, while striving to get through each day,remember Christ's birth and what it means both eternally and in the present.  We will suffer, we will hurt, but as we do, He not only understands, He hurts with us. 

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