As I write to you, it’s still Christmastime. I’m nestled in my armchair in front of the fireplace and next to our tree, shining with its lights and silver ornaments. I’ve got coffee to sip and Christmas music playing, and I just spent extended, very needed time with the Lord.
It seems like the picture-perfect scenario—and it is a lovely haven—but this wasn’t a time I planned with eagerness. Instead, I found myself going to the Lord in desperation for some kind of life-preserver, because my soul is heavy today.
Recently I’ve felt that soul weight more often than I’d ever like to admit. I think the weight’s name is Loneliness, and sometimes Loneliness invites Despair to stay awhile, too. I must’ve lost track when they arrived, because they feel like a part of me now. I wake up, and Loneliness is there. Despair lingers when I turn off my bedside lamp at night.
The enemy tells me to carry the weighty burden by myself, in silence. That’s what I’ve been doing—daily dragging it along as the fear of reaching out and getting to know people grows and my insecurities deepen. The father of lies (John 8:44) has found this gaping hole of worry and anxiety in which to tie my heart into a paralyzed knot. I know that God is with me, but I’ve listened to Loneliness and Despair for so long that it feels like they’re my personality now. And no one wants to befriend that, right?
Immanuel: God Still With Us
Do you know Loneliness well, too? Does Despair visit often? Have you ever felt as though your soul is gasping for air as it’s crushed beneath those weights? You’re not the only one who feels that way. More importantly, we have Someone who never forgets about us.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matt. 1:23, emphasis added).
We focus on this verse in December, but it doesn’t lose its truth or effectiveness come January 1.
Jesus, Immanuel, was God with the people in Bethlehem when He was born. He became flesh and dwelt among humanity. But He didn’t cease to be God with us when He ascended back into heaven. To this day, He remains with us.
Because of Immanuel, we are never, ever alone. Jesus delivers the crushing blow to the despairing feeling of loneliness. He is God. He is with us.
I curled into my armchair today to meet God in His Word because I needed to be reminded of that. Immanuel is here. Because of Jesus, I can have hope, joy, and freedom from the enemy’s weights that try their best to change my name to Useless and Hopeless. It’s in God’s Word to us that we find promises to grab onto and hold tight.
Run Toward the Promises
When you feel utterly alone, take your pain and run straight to these promises we have in Immanuel, God with us:
Promise: Immanuel will not forsake you. Because of this promise, you can take courage and be strong in Him.
Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut. 31:7–8).
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
Promise: No matter what happens in your life or in this world, Immanuel’s steadfast love won’t leave you. Because of this promise, you can know that you are cared for with an unshakeable love.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you (Isa. 54:10).
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Promise: Jesus, our true and better High Priest, understands the emotions and temptations we face in this life. Because of this promise, you can know you aren’t alone in your emotions and struggles—and you can look to Jesus for deliverance, mercy, and grace.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14–16).
Promise: Immanuel, God with us, is also our Mighty Warrior and Reigning King; He goes to battle for us, and He promises victory. Because of these promises, we can rest confidently while we trust our King to battle on our behalf.
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah (Ps. 24:7–10).
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
I love the way Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth said it in a recent Seeking Him podcast: “The God who created and sustains the universe is always with you. . . . Are you living in the reality of God’s nearness? Are you letting His presence transform and encourage your heart?”
Today I’m asking that Immanuel would lift the weights of Loneliness and Despair and fight my battle of discouragement. Will you do the same? Will you take the weights that burden your soul and leave them at Immanuel’s feet?
God is with us. Hold tight to that promise in 2017.