Immanuel means “God with us.” I’ve been thinking a lot about His name today in my unusually quiet house. They could have called Him anything, but there’s something so special and so personal about His name meaning God with us. He’s a God who willingly entered into our messy world, His arrival announced within the four walls of a smelly barn. He’s a God who chose to be present in our pain, and fix it with the touch of His hands and the spit of His mouth. He’s a God who saw into the souls of the people society casts aside. He’s a God who came to quietly serve and love, not loudly assert His God-status authority. I don’t think any human writer ever would have thought this kind of story up.
We are in the season of Advent, of waiting for Christmas, the celebration of the long-prophesied birth of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Now that we’re on the other side celebrating His birth and victory on the cross, we still wait for Him to return again to make all things right, just like He originally made it in the Garden. We wait. We wait for the festivities on Christmas Day and we wait on God with unanswered prayers. We feel the tension of the already here/not yet promises in Jesus. And in the Christmas season, we feel the absence of loved ones past, of struggles currently facing us, juxtaposed next to the blaring sound track of Jingle Bell Rock. I’m finding as I get older and my whimsical childhood Christmas is being jaded by the realities of life, it only pushes my heart to worship Jesus more in moments where I feel loss. Lasting hope and joy cannot come from attaining a perfect, pain free life.
I know I’m not alone in these feelings of waiting, tension and loss; there are many who feel this every year, which is why I share. I’m just so thankful we get to know a God whose name means “with us.” My prayer is that we all might yearn for His presence in our brokenness more than we yearn for attaining happiness, holding fast to the Hope that He’s not finished working yet, and one day promises to come back to be with us and make it all right again. Come Lord Jesus, come! But for now, there is beauty in the waiting, because it’s in that place, where the silence is a little too loud, that only Jesus can be magnified, not any set of ideals. As we sit at His feet and wait, He will produce in our hearts an overflowing of joy, peace, love and worship of our King, our God, who is with us.