The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
The prophet long ago delivered a wild prediction — a virgin giving birth. And an even wilder promise — God is with us.
What about the circumstances of a virgin bearing a child requires a name like Immanuel, God with us?
The promised nearness of God… God approaches the pure and innocent. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The untainted, unjaded, unscathed heart welcomes God, believes the hope of “God with us.” God has not abandoned us. He is near.
But history passed thousands of years from the time Isaiah uttered those words to the day God fulfilled them. The people waited, hoped, longed for the one who would come and ransom them from their captors.
And they didn’t always wait well. They grumbled. They succumbed to outside pressures and forsook the calling to be God’s people. In their waiting they grew impatient, they wandered, and became enslaved.
I’m know something about waiting. Having been pregnant three glorious times, I know the build of anticipation, the hopes and fears of all the months of changing body and growing life within. I know the thrill of birth, the joy of the actual arrival… and the new set of hopes and fears that come with the bundle of energy called “baby.” Immanuel showed himself each time; God was with us. He is still with us providing the wisdom and patience to see these boys into men.
But the waiting I’m learning about now won’t culminate in a new little boy to love and care for. It’s a different kind of waiting with new anxieties and fears. It’s a waiting for direction, clarity, a path to be revealed that is good and honors God’s call on our lives. So far, Immanuel has been silent.
What if we get to the end of this year in Orlando and Immanuel has stayed silent and the path elusive? What if we come to the end of this journey without clear direction as to what’s next? What then?
I guess we can take a cue from the way Mary and Joseph handled the challenge of being the couple God selected to fulfill this wild prophesy. Notice the pronoun — “they named him Immanuel.”
Even in the prediction, God promised the unity of mind that the couple would need as they found themselves in the midst of God’s plan. They would need to rely on each other as they walked the difficult road ahead of them. And they would need the promise of His presence. “God with us” — we are not alone.
O Father, as you reveal your plan to us, as we wait with expectation, give us the fatih to walk in obedience, hand in hand.
Thank you for the promise wrapped in your name, Immanuel.