Immanuel, “God with us.” The entirety of the Christian belief can be summed up in this one name and present reality. Throughout all of life, the journey of the God-fearing person is a journey of acceptance. Can I believe that God is truly with me, even in this problem, trial, or victory that I am experiencing? An active rejection or a lack of belief in God can be attributed to a fear of acknowledging that He is with us even in our problems because it implies that He is allowing them. This can be a scary thought, but God is not trying to scare us. We know this world is corrupted with trouble and all kinds of sickening and wicked activity, but God is not anxious about such things, nor is He apathetic. God sent His Son–the clearest sign given that He is with us in the depths of our depravity–and overcame sin and death. Immanuel is God’s way of saying: “I have overcome; do you believe that I am with you?”
For, if God is with us, then who or what can be against us? What situation is actually a bad situation, if God is the One writing our story? Jesus, by all accounts, is the One who has the highest right to say that the Father is not good–the Father sent His Son to the cross to die out of His love for a sinful people. It can be easy to read such a statement and look at God in a way that questions His goodness for doing such a thing. But, we must remember, it was for you and me that Jesus was sent to die. And Christ went willingly because He trusted the Father. Jesus is the perfect picture of trusting God despite the circumstances presented by the world, and to the very end, Christ waved the banner that God alone is good. Even when He was on the cross bearing the sins of the world, Christ did not separate Himself from the suffering nor try to escape through self-justification. Jesus, the perfect Lamb who did nothing wrong, trusted the Father even to the point of death. The sacrifice given at Golgotha will remain the most unfair circumstance of all time–nothing even comes close to the injustice of Christ’s crucifixion.
Yet, the story didn’t end there. God’s love is so radical and powerful, that even in accepting something entirely contrary to His nature–sin and death–His love still couldn’t be overcome. That, even out of death and darkness, God’s light is able to shine perfectly. It is written, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3 ESV); “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.” (Psalm 139:11-12 ESV); “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5 ESV). With God, any situation can be made a miracle, and any circumstance can be turned for good.
The birth of Jesus and His story is all about God making something good out of something not-so-good. Does a manger sound like an ideal sleeping place for a baby (Luke 2:7; though, I suppose