Every Christmas for nearly 30 years, my husband’s mother sent new Christmas ornaments to us and the children. There are creamy white Belleek castles and shamrocks and angels; engraved brass Christmas trees and stars; large globes covered with family artwork – enough to start the kids off on their own trees when it’s time.
This year, Mom couldn’t give us our ornaments even though she’d picked them out. Suzanne Christmyer passed away soon after Thanksgiving, having lived a long full life and loved by her children and grandchildren. She was nearly 90.
If you’ve lost a family member, you know what it’s like going into the holidays. They leave a life-sized hole that sometimes seems as solid as they were, alive. I never thought much about those ornaments or what they’d mean, but last week as I took them out, unwrapped them one by one and hung them on the tree, they brought a rush of memories. I felt her presence, heard her laugh, remembered how much she loved us all. In that room by the tree, it’s as if she’s with us still.
“With us” is the gift God gave us on the first Christmas. We were as good as dead to him, but he didn’t want to lose us. He wanted us to know how much he loves us. Not just after our time on earth, which is how long we have to wait to see our loved ones, but now.
Here are just some of the situations in which God is with us, according to his Word:
When we’re afraid: “Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
When we’re in trouble: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
When we feel abandoned or weak: “I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:9b-10 When we’re persecuted: “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.” – Zephaniah 3:15
When we’re sad or near death: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
Not only does he promise to be with us, we can’t get away from him and no one and nothing can get between us! “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” – Psalm 139:7-10
“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”– Romans 8:38-39
If you’re feeling far from God this week in spite of Christmas, curl up by the tree with your Bible and read some of these other ways God is with you and the things He will do for you: John 14:16-17, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 57:15, Exodus 33:13-14.
“I’m with you always, to the close of the age” Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 28:20. And he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” As you celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, may you experience God’s presence in a very special way.
Sarah Christmyer is a writer for Ascension Presents Blog. This article first appeared here: http://media.ascensionpress.com/2015/12/22/christmas-witness-gods-presence-around/