“He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is not overwhelmed when we are overwhelmed.”

It has been a tumultuous year for our nation, and undoubtedly each one of us on a personal level has had our own share of life challenges as we look back on 2017. We enter into Advent, anticipating some extra chaos and busyness of the Christmas season, longing for some time of rest and meaningful reflection. 

I recently spent some time in the first two chapters of Matthew, and I was struck anew by the personal and political upheaval brought about rather unapologetically by the coming of Christ. I saw a bit of myself in so many of the story’s key characters: Mary, Joseph, Herod, Bethlehem. But beyond that, I marveled at God’s unwavering commitment to show both His glory and His tender lovingkindness in the midst of much turmoil.

I am Mary. I long to please the Lord. I long for his life to be shown in me. I feel small and inadequate. I am scared sometimes of the implications in my life to say I am publicly committed to identifying closely with this often misunderstood, sometimes seemingly scandalous person of Jesus. I can’t turn back, but sometimes I need a supernatural Word to keep me pressing forward.

He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is gracious to show His life through us, even through our smallness and inadequacies. He is not afraid of our fear. He gives His Word to keep us standing firm and pressing forward.

I am Joseph. I’ve tried hard to please the Lord, and yet at times, what I felt I received in return was a life much more challenging than what I thought I was signing up for. At times, I am slightly stunned by the reality that faithfulness to the Lord does not earn me an easy life.

He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is not overwhelmed when we are overwhelmed. He is gracious to still invite us to participate in the greatest revelation of His glory if we will trust and submit ourselves to His work.

I am Herod. I want to know every single thing that God is up to, but beyond that, I want to keep my place as king. I feel threatened by His sovereignty, and when I don’t trust Him, I will overreact when my kingdom is on the line. Sometimes, I miss out on all the goodness that He is doing in the world.

He is Emmanuel, God with us. In His goodness, He will come and establish His kingdom, regardless of all our fleshly efforts to resist this. He will complete what He has promised, because His glory will always be greater than ours, and this is Good News for hearts that settle too easily for something less.

I am Bethlehem. I’ve been waiting and aching and longing for what feels like such a long time for God to speak to us as a nation again. Injustice seems to reign as all the male children have been killed by a madman, and God seems farther than ever. Yet I don’t grasp that He is actually closer than I can even begin to fathom.

He is Emmanuel, God with us. He comes to our nation in ways we do not expect, in ways we do not always know how to look for. But He has come. He is here. He has not forsaken us.

What are our fears? Our hesitations? Our self-driven blind spots? Our questions? God comes as Emmanuel to Mary, to Joseph, to Herod, to Bethlehem, to me, to all of us. He comes in chaos, and in the midst of it He faithfully fulfills His glorious purpose and His loving promises. This Christmas, just like that first Christmas, He shows His intimacy, His glory, and His sovereignty to those who submit themselves in humble faith. What Good News to know He is our Emmanuel, God with us in the midst of our chaos.

Alina Sato

Alina is a member of Cornerstone and serves the church as a servant minister.

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