Emmanuel, God WITH Us
When we first think about someone being with us, we think of their physical presence. After all, that's a huge part of what it is. They are in our midst. We can see, hear, touch, talk to and walk with them, experiencing life together.
But there's another component to someone being with us that is a little deeper. Someone can be in our presence but be completely disengaged. They are physically with us, but could care less about what's going on in our lives. They are not actively and emotionally with us and don't know our lives underneath the surface.
When Jesus was born, this was God coming to be physically with us, which is what Emmanuel means. He was in our midst and among us on earth. And then He grew up and lived just like us (just without sinning).
He was a helpless baby completely dependent on his parents. He went from being a child to becoming an adult. He played, he worked, he slept. He got hungry and thirsty. He laughed and cried. He experienced pain. A LOT of pain. He became a carpenter and teacher. He was tempted and went through struggles. Some people loved him; others hated him.
All of this is how the "with" becomes so much more. Even though Jesus is not tangibly with us now, because he once was 2000 years ago and experienced every possible thing we have (and all the more), and because he sent the Holy Spirit in his place after he physically went back to heaven, he is with us more than ever. Jesus was physically on earth. The Holy Spirit is Jesus not just physically with us, but now living inside of us. He is with us in every possible way and in the deepest way, actively.
Often when people think about God, they think about a distant God that is impersonal and disengaged from their own lives. They think He may care about other peoples' lives, but He doesn't care about theirs. This is far from the truth!
"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7
In John 14:7 Jesus talks about the Helper being the Spirit of truth that is with them (as Jesus) and will be in them (once Jesus is gone).
This Christmas, think of the baby Jesus as the reason God is not just with us physically, but actively and intimately engaged within each of our lives. Trust that He is truly with you every day through everything. He understands you. He knows you better than you know yourself. Look for and approach Him with confidence and you will find Him!
Hebrews 4:15-16, "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."