Immanuel. God with us.
What, exactly, does that mean?
I can’t see God. I can’t hear Him. Or touch Him.
If I’m with someone, I can do all of those things. So, if God is with me, why do I often struggle to see Him. To hear Him. To even feel His presence?
The name Immanuel is mentioned only three times in Scripture, twice in Isaiah, once in Matthew. Two of those mentions refer to the coming Messiah, the baby who is the Savior. The other is issued as encouragement in the midst of battle. The words “God is with us” are also used a couple of verses later, emphasizing the previous declaration.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel that God, like Elvis, has left the building. He has had enough of my nonsense, gathered His royal robes about Him, and taken His holy presence somewhere else, perhaps where He might be more appreciated and better understood.
I mean, that’s what I would do, right?
Well, thank God that I am not God.
A god who storms off in a huff is not very reliable. A god who gets his feelings hurt is not the least bit helpful. A god who leaves is not very comforting.
That’s why we have a God who is Immanuel. God with us. A God who never leaves. Ever.
When I can’t see Him, it doesn’t mean He’s not there. When I can’t hear Him, it doesn’t mean He’s not speaking. When I can’t feel Him near, it doesn’t mean He’s taken a vacation, a little time to recharge.
Immanuel. All day, every day, every minute, every second. No. Matter. What.
Remember when you were learning to ride a bike?
Dad ran alongside holding on to the back of it, yelling “I’m right here! I’ve got you!” You trusted him to not let go until you were ready.
Remember the nightmare that woke everyone, leaving you scared and crying? Mom was there in a heartbeat, holding you and assuring you, “It’s okay. I’m right here.” Staying by your bedside until you calmed down and fell asleep once again.
Immanuel. God with us. I’m right here!
And the best thing?
He never lets go, wondering if you can stay upright this time. He doesn’t glance at the clock, wondering when you’re going back to sleep.
Even when I can’t see, don’t hear, can’t feel, He is whispering, “I’m right here.”
I know this because I know Him. I know His character. I know His reputation. So, I don’t need to rely on my senses to know whether or not He is with me.
His very name tells me all I need to know.
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23 (NIV 1985)
May you be comforted this season and always by that assurance.