I love thinking about how God is Immanuel—God with us. The Word tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb. 13:5) Everything we have experienced so far in our lives, God has gone through it with us. And no matter what we are going through now, or will go through later, He will be there with us in the midst of that too. He loves us that much.
Sometimes when our circumstances are so difficult it’s hard to imagine He cares for us. Often we feel totally alone and abandoned by Him.
One of the most difficult times I have ever been through was the first year we lived on the mission field. We were in another country dealing with culture shock (not realizing it), without our friends or family, and no one who even spoke English to talk to. I remember one night we bumped into a Peace Corp worker at the ice cream shop and it was such a thrill to sit down with an American just to fellowship, although we had nothing else in common. Such was the scenario of this little city in the Dominican Republic.
During this year, one afternoon I was ironing clothes in our bedroom (because the electricity happened to be on then and that’s where the air-conditioner was). Feelings of loneliness and despair suddenly arose in my heart. Now understand, my father had passed away from colon cancer four years before we had moved here and I believed I had “dealt with” his death. However, in the pit of isolation, this fury of anger about his death welled up inside of me.
I stopped ironing and lashed out at God accusing Him of taking my dad from me and leaving me fatherless. I demanded to know why He took him, and told Him how unfair it was. I cried, I yelled, I pouted, I blamed. I released all my pent up anger, fear, and resentment I had at God and I let Him have it. I slammed Him hard—very unlike my normal well-kept calm Christian composure.
Then crumpled on my bed next to the ironing board whimpering and wiping tears from my face I heard a gentle still voice. He simply said, “I’m so glad you got that out of you. You’ve been carrying that for a long time.”
The One on whom I poured out all my wrath, lovingly wrapped His love around me like a big warm blanket. He took my pain. He took my anguish. He took my heartache. I let it go. All the “whys” went away. It didn’t matter anymore. I felt loved.
Immanuel showed up in that small Dominican bedroom. I didn’t make Him mad. I didn’t cause Him to be upset with me. He never left me. He stayed right there with me, in the middle of my pain, in all my fears and guilt. He was with me.
This is how much Father God loves us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us any more than He already does. And there is nothing we can do to make Him love us any less than He already does. You see, He is love. (1 John 4:8)
This one event changed me more than most anything else in my Christian walk because, you see, I realized then that there really is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. (Rom. 8:39) He came into the midst of my mess just like He did 2,000 years ago. Jesus chose to come into the mess of humanity with all it’s evil, brokenness, and pain so He could reunite us with His Father. Oh, the lengths He takes to restore relationship with us.
I was restored that day. I know God is always with me. And He’s with you, too.