Immanuel, God with us

As I sit curled up on my chair in the soft glow of the lit Christmas tree. My eye’s settle on the Nativity that is set up at the base.  They linger on the Christ Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in the manger.

Prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, 700 years before his birth, it was written, a promise,  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  

Immanuel. 

I sometimes struggle to remember the fullness of this promise during the rush of Christmas.

Immanuel: “God is with us” 
 עִמָּ֫נוּאֵ֫ל Immanuel 
My mind wanders to my much loved Uncle who is in hospital, his health is critical. I want full healing for him. I pray for my cousins who are with him, undoubtedly weary and deeply concerned. 
This Christmas isn’t going to be a typical Christmas for them.  
I am asking God for healing, I am certain my Uncle, strong, wilful and determined is putting his energy into overcoming.  I am asking that the promise, “God with us”, will overwhelm them with comfort and strength in the midst of this struggle.
Then I think of our visit with a dear family here in town yesterday.  Again, a much loved husband, father, grandfather.  He too is in critical condition.  He is strong, wilful and determined, putting all he has into overcoming.  
My husband and I had the pleasure of sharing coffee, visiting, laughing, story telling, & praying together with them.  Raw moments of emotion would well up as the seriousness of the situation would unveil itself, yet it would swiftly be swept away by joy and hope.  
This family is experiencing the promise “God with us” in the midst of their struggle and it is beautiful. They are leaning on the promise, strength and love of God. He is with them in this and because of that there is a steadfastness, peace and joy that shines bright.
To hear this wonderful man say “I have a lot to live for, but if I go that’s good too.” was amazing.
He then went on to express in his colourful, lively way the reason for his confident, fearless stance.
His Saviour 
Jesus
The Christ Child
Immanuel 
God with us came to earth, and conquered death to give us life.
This dearly loved man is echoing the words of Paul in Phillipians 1:21  “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I cannot adequately express the power and glory of this. 

Here a man who loves his family fiercely, expressing that his honest hearts desire is to be with them for a while longer. We all feel he is too young to go. Yet with confidence and joy, he says “Either way, I’m good.” It is really something to witness and behold and I see it in his wife and daughters eyes.  The same confidence and joy.  
This is the reality of a family grounded in the promise “God with us”
Their Christmas isn’t going to be typical. They are grabbing everything it will offer them. Especially, the promise that God is with them.  They have hope and a future.
This reaches my soul to a depth that draws me back to why we celebrate the birth of Immanuel.

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