A Christmas Promise
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14)
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved Christmas. I love the decorating, all the extra cooking and baking, and even searching for that just right gift for every person on my Christmas list. Even as I get older, I’m discovering that my love for Christmas, instead of diminishing, just continues to grow.
This year as I began to pull out all the decorations to get everything ready to decorate, I heard the tragic news of devastating wildfires in one of my favorite places in the world – the Great Smoky Mountains. Things quickly accelerated and within a matter of hours, the extremely dry conditions and strong winds had whipped the fire into a raging inferno that quickly descended into the nearby towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, Jones Cove, and much of Sevier County. At the time I’m writing this, numerous structures, including both businesses and homes, have been completely destroyed by fire.
This is especially poignant to me. This area is only about 1-1/2 hours away from where I live and even as a child, my family enjoyed trips to the Smokies. My husband and I stopped in Gatlinburg on our first night as husband and wife, as we made our way to the Shenandoah for our honeymoon. We have enjoyed weekend getaways to this area with our own kids, many of which were during the Christmas season.
Long story short – my heart hurts. But as I continued to work, my eyes fell on a new Christmas tree ornament that my daughter, Karla, gave to me just this past weekend. Inscribed on a small block of wood were the words “God With Us!” Immediately, I was reminded of the prophecy of Isaiah:“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel – God with us! This is the promise of Christmas!
So many things in our lives are uncertain. No one could have foreseen the raging fire and untold devastation even a day before the fires raged out of control. The same is true in your life and mine. Our futures are unknown. But Christmas reminds us that whatever comes, God is with us. Jesus, God in the flesh, told His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus also explained to them that when He left them and returned to the Father, that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them (see John 16:5-15). Today, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us (Romans 8:11). Scriptures help us know that the Spirit helps us (see John 14:16-26), guides us (see John 16:13), gives us discernment (see 1 John 4:1-6), bears fruit in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-23), comforts us (see Acts 9:31), and helps reveal the things of God to us (see 1 Corinthians 2:10, 13). We, too, can know the joy that God is with us. Perhaps, this Christmas promise is what makes my love for Christmas just continue to grow year by year. Each year holds countless reminders of a God who is not aloof and unreachable, but a God who is with us every day, in good times, in bad times, at all times!
As I get ready for Christmas, I realize that not everyone’s season is bright and joyful. There are those in the middle of all kinds of hardships. There are those who may be reeling from uncertain medical diagnoses, others who may be trying to rebuild lives after losing everything to floods, fires, or other calamities. And still others who are just discouraged, misunderstood, or in a season of loss or struggle. I’ve been there at certain Christmases, too. Yet, every Christmas, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we can rejoice in the unchangeable Christmas promise – the absolute wonder of a God who loves us, who came to save us, and who is with us always!
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”