O Come, Emmanuel

Ever since I was little, I have always loved the word Emmanuel. It seemed to call something forth from me, deep in my innermost soul-places.

Raise your hand if you remember Amy Grant singing “Emmanuel.” (If you haven’t heard it, go find it!) It’s such an upbeat, catchy song, and for me, it is riddled with memories and nostalgia.

Growing up, my house was a K-LOVE house; we listened to Christian radio all the time on our stereo in the living room. That song was released in 1996 – I looked it up – and I’m gonna date myself, but I was seven when it came out: ripe “fangirl” age. I knew all the words. I even tried to name my doll “Emmanuel,” and only after some convincing from my dad did I agree to shorten it to “Emma.”

Now, as a seven-year-old, I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of the word Emmanuel. It is a Hebrew word (Romanized to Emmanuel from Immanuel) that means, “God with us.”

But at 30, I have seen quite a bit more life, and I have found Emmanuel to be less of a catchy chorus and more of a balm to the soul.

I’ll be really honest with you: I’ve had a hard time writing this post.

My father-in-law passed away three months ago. My mother-in-law passed away six years before that. Both in September. Both from cancer. My mother-in-law’s passing was a mere month after my husband and I got married.

“God with us.” How is God possibly with us when things like this happen?

Oh, but He is. I have seen it. I have tangibly felt the peace He can give.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (ESV)

I have seen my husband’s family band together in strength and grace, living genuinely, using their stories to encourage others to step out of the darkness. If the others aren’t ready, they humbly offer them a candle.

I have seen a friend lose a spouse and walk tall and proud for Jesus, digging her roots deep and wide out of love for Him. She is captivating and drips of Jesus.

I have personally miscarried a child and been given such an abundant peace soon after. It was startling.

There is peace that doesn’t make sense, but how? How does it work? How can people move on, move forward??

I’ll give you a hint: they can’t – not on their own strength: “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, AMP).

They can function because they have seen Jesus. They have felt Him, the God with us. They know the richness and fullness of life alongside Him.

In a smaller example, I remember falling apart to a close friend a year or so ago, confessing to her that I don’t wake up at the crack of dawn to spend time with Jesus, to be present and actively seek his face and presence. I said that I could barely pull myself out of bed when my baby woke me up for the day, that I could barely find time to do my normal maintenance on my life when having a tiny one is so taxing, so all-consuming. So beautiful, too, I told her, so deeply meaningful… but oh, so tiring.

Can any of y’all relate?? Can I get an amen?

Looking back, I can name that Postpartum Depression.

And her response changed my life. She knows me and my heart deeply, she feels and knows the Holy Spirit deeply, and she said something along the lines of the following: You are actively praising Him every time you marvel at the wonder of your daughter. Every sigh of ‘How is she mine?’, those muttered grateful praises to Him for the glory of the blessing it is to be a mother, the blessing it is to be part of the good, hard work of raising a child, He is there with you. He not only sees you and hears you, but He is there with you.

Emmanuel.

Tears crept down my face at the relief that I wasn’t letting Him down, that in this season, I didn’t have to climb mountaintops with a baby Bjorn on my back to find Him. That He was here within arms reach. God with us.

Emmanuel.

Have you ever felt far from God? It feels like a silly question because most people I know feel far from God often. It is difficult when the most important relationship in our lives is based on faith, on the unseen, on the intangible.

Do you feel you are adding to the wall you feel between you and God? That you are actively adding to it, brick by brick, by listening to the lies the enemy would have us believe? Those lies that twist the truth just enough to make you wonder if God is not good, is not here with us?

I definitely was. I still do, more often than I would like to admit. The heart is easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9), and when we don’t feel Him (at least when I don’t), we tend to make up some crazy stories about how disappointed He is.

He’s not. He sees Jesus in you. Jesus died for all of that crap. Do not carry one more thing that the enemy places on your shoulders to hold you down when you were meant to live and live to the full! (Ephesians 3:19.)

I will leave you with this beautiful Christmas song to remind you in this season just how present He is. I am clinging to the last verse:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

O come, Thou, Dayspring from on high
And cause Thy light on us to rise
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadow put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, true prophet of the Lord
And turn the key to heaven’s door
Be Thou our comforter and guide
And lead us to the Father’s side
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall by His word our darkness dispel

O come, our great High Priest, and intercede
Thy sacrifice, our only plea
The judgment we no longer fear
Thy precious blood has brought us near
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Has banished every fear of hell

O Come, Thou King of nations bring
An end to all our suffering
Bid every pain and sorrow cease
And reign now as our Prince of Peace
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come again with us to dwell

Originally written for sweetlyredeemed.com on December 19, 2019.

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