December 24, 2020
Being stuck in quarantine for most of the year has highlighted our innate need for human connection.
While technology gave us some sort of relief from being socially distant for months on end, we realized that it can never come close to the joy and satisfaction of seeing one another in actual flesh and blood. Nothing can ever replace the assurance of human touch, the warmth of a friend’s embrace, or the simple joy of being with the people we love.
As the pandemic forced us apart, our loneliness exposed the gaping wounds in our soul that had long been buried by our busyness. The silence of our isolation made us hear the inner voices that had long been drowned out by the noise of the world around us.
Your issues about your self-worth started resurfacing.
Your longing to be noticed, loved, and accepted became stronger than ever.
Your fear of being abandoned or rejected returned.
Past hurts, painful memories, and hurtful words started playing on loop in your head.
The voice of your inner critic tortured you as you lay on your bed during one of those sleepless nights.
And so, to console the weary soul and to satisfy its thirst, you resort to some temporary fix.
You turn to pornography and online sex to address your need for intimacy.
You cling too tightly to your friends or special someone, scared of being left alone.
Your addictions and vices relapse as you try your best to cope with anxiety and loneliness.
You do everything to be productive to cover your insecurities about your self-worth.
You explore different hobbies to find new things to do, immerse yourself in social media, and spend countless hours playing mobile games—only to be bored yet again.
As the Christmas season approaches, our loneliness only tends to get worse. Our culture’s view of Christmas highlights the lack—the incomplete family, the absence of romance, or the financial problems—and hides from our view the true reason to celebrate the season.
You see, Christmas is more than just gifts, reunions, and merrymaking. As the pandemic exposed our loneliness, Christmas reminds us that we don’t have to go through life alone.
Jesus’ birth fulfilled God’s promise to the people of Israel, which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years prior:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The name “Immanuel” is the symbolic or prophetic name of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one who would redeem the world and establish His everlasting kingdom on earth.
What does this mean for us?
He came into the very world he created,
but the world didn’t recognize him. . . .
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 1:10,14 (NLT)
God’s purpose for creating mankind is to enjoy a loving relationship with us. He gave us the freedom of choice so we can freely love Him out of our own volition. Yet man betrayed God’s pure love and chose to walk away from this relationship.
Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, humanity has been relationally, morally, and spiritually separated from God. As a consequence of this separation, humanity was doomed to suffer eternal punishment and the world was subjected to disaster and decay.
But God, out of His mercy and grace, launched a rescue mission to save the world and mankind from total destruction.
Jesus Christ—the God of the universe, the author of space and time, the ruler of creation—went down into the very world He created. He took on the form of a finite, limited, and fragile human being in order to pay the penalty for man’s sins.
He was God among mortal men—fully God, yet fully human in every way. He was tempted just as we are tempted. He experienced hunger and thirst. He tasted the bitterness of betrayal and felt the searing pain of loneliness. He “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do.” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT)
What pain are you carrying today? What difficulties are you facing? What struggles are you going through?
As you celebrate Christmas today, remember that the Savior whom you celebrate can sympathize with everything that you’re feeling. Somebody understands you more than anyone; yes, even more than you understand yourself. Jesus understands.
The good news doesn’t just end with the truth that Jesus understands what you’re going through. He is with you as you go through it.
Several times in the Bible, God assured us of His abiding presence. He promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Whenever we face overwhelming circumstances in life, He promised that He will be with us (Isaiah 43:1–3). Jesus Himself promised to His disciples that He will always be with them, until the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
God’s promise of His constant presence isn’t just about His being omnipresent or immanent (meaning, God is present in all of creation).
God is not just near. He is close—close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit; father to the fatherless; defender of the weak and the oppressed; closer than your next heartbeat.
God isn’t just spatially near. He is intimately involved. He pays attention to your prayers. He knows every detail of your life. He hears your silent cries; every tear that falls from your eyes is precious to Him. He is mindful of you.
Christmas is a reminder that you never have to go through life alone. Jesus is Immanuel. Our God is with us.
The birth of Christ paved the way for the climax of God’s redemption plan—the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.
When Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity—not just to be with us, but to dwell within us, His followers, God’s children. We are His temple. Just as God is seated on His throne in heaven, He also chose to dwell inside our hearts—our fragile, weak, and vulnerable hearts.
His Spirit gives us strength to face any struggle. He gives us joy in the midst of pain and loss. He replaces our fear with courage. He is the solid guarantee that God is not just with us or within us; God is for us.
As you celebrate Christmas, reflect on this truth:
Christmas means you never have to be alone or lonely. Jesus is Immanuel. He is God with us.
Before the clock strikes midnight, take a moment to worship Him and thank Him for coming into the world on Christmas day.