I have been talking about a few of the ways GOD’s Immanuel-ness–GOD with us–applies to our lives.
GOD is with us in our suffering, He is with us to bring us redemption and He is with us to join us in our weakness and human frailty.
He experienced suffering on many levels as a human and certainly, the final level He experienced suffering was a way we humans will never be able to or will have to. It was when He took on Himself all the sin of all the world of all time on Himself to pay for it on the cross. It is impossible for us to even fully understand all that meant except to understand it was hellish to the extreme. The physical suffering for Him was probably not the worst part of it either. Imagine Someone who has lived all of eternity in fellowship with GOD the Father and GOD the Holy Spirit and for those number of hours having to be completely separated from them them as He carried the sin of the world on Himself and experienced GOD’s wrath?! That must have been agonizing beyond imagination. Certainly, childbirth would be a microcosm of that experience, but only a taste of it.
Then, to think of redemption being one of His main reasons for coming to earth in the first place. Yet for many of us, we minimize our need for it because we are in such denial about how serious our problem is with sin and our own fallenness. We often tend to pass over lightly why Jesus had to come to be with us. Paul explains it so clearly in Romans when He talks about our absolute lack of desire to pursue GOD despite the ways He shows Himself to us in nature and all around us. (See Romans 1-3)
The good news is that despite our natural nature that has no interest in GOD, GOD can work in our spirits to give them a desire to seek after Him. It is an exciting thing to watch as GOD moves in a persons spirit to open their blinded eyes (His words) or make them alive to truth so that we can come to the place where because of GOD’s work we have experienced what Paul talked about in Romans 8.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 ESV
Because of what Jesus did for us, we no longer have to live feeling condemned. That is the great news of the gospel!
God is with us in our weakness, whatever kind we experience.
Now, for today. Obviously, there are a lot of ways these topics are related. But I see todays topic especially related to my specific readers. Many of you feel weak…either physically as you age and have more and more physical problems. Mentally, you may be having memory issues as well. Your memory isn’t as good as it once was. That can be discouraging and often disheartening. Or you many feel weak emotionally as you second guess many of the decisions you make, are being forced to make decisions alone when you once had the help of a spouse or other loved one who can no longer give their wisdom to advise you because they have died or become disabled.
The losses keep adding up and you wonder if you can say “good-bye” to one more person or item. It sometimes gets to be too much. Sometimes, the responsibilities become overwhelming if you are giving care to a loved one that is ill or has a chronic health issue. Some days you feel pretty strong and think you can manage, but many days you wake up and think, “I don’t feel strong enough to do this anymore.”
You are the person Immanuel came to at Christmas. He came quietly that Bethlehem night. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare there in Bethlehem. The fanfare was out in the field where the shepherds were. Out there where the outcast people were, not the “in” people. As far as the town of Bethlehem knew, or people in any of the big cities of the day, it was a simple, ordinary night. Nothing big happened. It never made the front page of the newspaper.
Jesus’ quiet presence with you is real and true if you are His child. His Spirit lives in you. He is working in you when you feel weak to bring glory from your life. In fact, it is particularly during those times when you feel weak, that He is able to bring glory to Himself.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
It is during these years of illness (i had some a few years back and now Ron has some), massive changes, good-byes, and being stretched in many ways, that I have been learning how faithful GOD is. He meets our needs, all of them, in ways we never anticipate. He provides for us. He cares for us and most especially? He is with us.
There is no question, this has been a very challenging year. For me, the isolation of it has been awful. We can’t get away and visit family ad friends. We finally grabbed a little time to do it, but we couldn’t do much traveling while we were there. Many of the ways we have had to recharge ourselves and provide encouraging community for ourselves, have been lessened. It hasn’t been easy. And hanging over it all has been the question. Will we get COVID? Will any of our loved ones get it and how will they be affected.? It has not been easy to live like this.
But it is just another way we have learned that in the end, we are weak. We have no control over any of these events in our lives. Only GOD does. It tends to put us in our place doesn’t it? It helps us realize who is really the powerful one and who isn’t.
It is a reminder of the truth of that children’s song:
Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
We are weak, but He is strong.