Contributed by Julian Ramsey
About 3000 people are dying each day in the US alone from the COVID 19 virus. That’s more than died on Pearl Harbor which launched us into World War 2. It’s more than died on 9/11 which launched the TSA and all their restrictions. So far more have died from the virus than in all of WW 2. One out of every 1100 people in the US have died from the virus and every 40 seconds someone catches the virus.
The virus has touched our lives in many ways. Restriction, isolations and loneliness are some of the toughest parts of COVID 19. Many are in lockdowns. A neighbor with the virus was in something like solitary confinement in his own home. He didn’t leave his room so his new baby and his wife won’t catch it.
Family and friends are a major part of life. After God, I think the next most important part of life is family and after family its friends. However, the virus is isolating us from family and friends. Children are not playing with their school friends. Extended families are not together for the holidays. Confinement keeps us from doing fun things we are accustomed to. Cabin fever touches us all. In prisons one of the worse punishments is solitary confinement. Inmates can go mad and become physically ill.
In the midst of the darkness, death, isolation and restrictions, what difference does Jesus’s birth 2000 years ago make today? At first Mary probably felt isolated. How could she explain an out of wedlock pregnancy to Joseph? To her family? To her community? To herself? But a central message of Christmas is we are not alone. God had an amazing message for Mary, in the first chapter of the NT, her son is Immanuel, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 was promised in Isaiah 7:14.)
In the same Gospel, in its last chapter and last verse at the end of the great commission Christ drives the point giving the same promise. As we fulfill the commands of going, baptizing, teaching to make disciples of all people groups, Christ will be with us always to the end of the age.
In the first chapters of the Bible God created man and woman and before the fall had fellowship with them, walking in the garden with them.
In the third chapter of Exodus when God called Moses to be His missionary to free the children of Israel, Moses begins his five objections saying, “Who am I do to this job”. And God responds with “But I will be with you”.
In the first chapter of the historical books Moses, God’s servant for 40 years leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, is now dead. Joshua has the challenge of conquering the promised land alone without Moses’ leadership. His people are seasoned shepherds. not warriors. His task is daunting and God gives some commands and a promise in Joshua 1:5-9 – Don’t let God’s word leave your mouth. Meditate on it day and night in order to do all that it says. This is coupled with a promise and a repeated command of choosing to be strong and courageous because the Lord your God will be with you.
This promise permeates God’s word. Isaiah is told not to fear because God will be with you in 41:10. David tells us even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because you are with me.
If we get the virus, God will be with us. If we end up in the valley of the shadow of death intubated in an ICU ward isolated from family, God will be with us. If there is an empty seat at our dinner table God will be with us. If a family member gets the virus, God will be with them and you. If we lose our job, God will be with us If we run out of finances God will be with us. When we are isolated from work colleagues, school friends, church family, personal family, God will be with us. If we can’t be with our extended family for Christmas, God will be with us. When our problems don’t seem to make sense, when we have no idea why a loving God would allow this pandemic so far to kill more than 1,600,000 worldwide with more than 300,000 in the US, God is in control and will be with us. Let’s remember the significance of our Lord’s birth and the light the Savior brings to push back the darkness of this world. Let’s remember the fellowship He brings with Himself in the midst of our isolation.
Within your restrictions you can be encouraged by watching the beautiful song in 18 languages, “The Blessing” by the Fellowship in Dubai on YouTube as it reminds you, He is with you and for you.
Immanuel, God with us, came on Christmas day. We are not alone. Let’s celebrate.