This past summer, my family and I joined our extended family for a family reunion. We enjoyed the beautiful lake; we went boating and jet skiing and got to catch up with family members we haven’t seen in a while. But the one thing we didn’t have was simply a cellular or wifi connection. It was fair to say we were “off the grid,” but what should we do when God is “off the grid”?
Now, this topic could be a bit personal for some people as we approach Christmas and the New Year, but I want to send encouragement to someone who dreads Christmas because of all the loss they have experienced over the past year or a lifetime. In part one, I told my story of heartache that I had experienced since graduating High School but the one word when talking about Christmas that comes to mind other than being with family and opening presents and celebrating the birth of Jesus is the word “loss.” Over the last two years, especially, we have all dealt with loss. While I was blessed not to have lost any loved ones this year, I have experienced loss. From the moment I was born, I was close to my Grandma. I loved her so much she was always there for me. But when I was just eight years old, I lost her to cancer, which meant we would have to go through what I call “the firsts,” which included Christmas. For some of you, this may be your first. In this season of celebration, you may feel like there isn’t much to celebrate. But in this season, I am reminded of the first Christmas! An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him all that would happen concerning his child. Matthew 1:22-23 “So this was done that might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call him Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (NKJV) I can’t even imagine the emotion Joseph had during this dream, and for the angel to tell him that Mary will conceive your baby and he will be named Immanuel. (God with us) From our human perspective, God wasn’t with them for four hundred years! So, even God’s chosen people felt like God was off the grid. Normally God communicates with the prophets, but the prophets didn’t hear from him. This was known as the “Silent Years.” But little did they know God would cause a census in that area to fulfill a prophecy that the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph traveled many miles to Bethlehem for the census and to have the baby, but there were no rooms available when they arrived. Here is another time where they felt like God was silent, but they looked everywhere until they found a feeding trough, so they wrapped him up in cloths and placed him in a manger. When looking at the things Mary and Joseph had to go through to give birth to Jesus, all I think about is his glory. We are at our lowest, and we don’t see a way out because God is about to do something through us to show his glory. Now we may not have to wait four hundred years for God to do something, but we all have been in situations where we felt like God wasn’t there. This Christmas let us remember that he is Immanuel and always with us.