The Gift That Just Keeps Giving
This year as I read through the Christmas story, something jumped out at me that I hadn’t paid much attention to before. The angel gave Mary and Joseph two names for the baby: Jesus, meaning “savior” - and Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25). If I had been in Mary and Joseph’s situation, I might have been slightly confused by these two names together because usually we tend to view salvation as being saved from whatever difficult situation we’re in, rather than having someone come to be with us in that situation. In other words, we think of “salvation” as being synonymous with “rescue”.
Jesus’ birth gives us a much fuller understanding, as we’re told that He is both: He is our savior, AND He is God with us. This means that the salvation God offers us often is not rescue or removal from the hard, pain-filled conditions of life on this earth. Instead, it’s spiritual salvation from the penalty of our sins, and the promise that God will be with us each and every day as we walk through all the challenges and pain of life on this planet.
At first that might sound disappointing because we want to be rescued, or removed from the hard things of life. But it’s actually really good news, because it means that our sins are taken care of, AND no matter where we go or how difficult life gets, God will be right there with us. That means that we can find peace and contentment and joy in the most painful experiences, because God is with us. We can go through the ordinary routines of life and not get bored or unhappy, because God is with us. And we can face the biggest obstacles life has to offer us and not be afraid, because God is with us.
The gift that God gave us all those years ago on that first Christmas morning truly is the gift that keeps on giving - day in, and day out, no matter where we go, and no matter what happens to us. So today, let’s ask God to help us see Him in the everyday routines of our lives. Let’s ask Him to help us see Him in the hard things we’re facing. And let’s ask Him to help us see Him in the joys we’re experiencing. Let’s turn our eyes to Him, and remember that He really is with us – offering both salvation and the deepest companionship we can know as we walk through the highs and lows of life.