OH, THAT YOU would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you (Isa 63:19 NIV).
What did you want for Christmas? As life goes on, our lists seem to change.
Early on all we wanted was that Red Ryder BB gun, our two front teeth and, of course, a hippopotamus.
Now, however, those things do not matter.
We want a little more job security; we need the chemo to work; we desperately long for that phone call telling us that there is a transplant waiting; we hunger for one more meal with our loved ones who were called to our savior’s side this past year; we wish our family would come together around forgiveness and embrace each other; we would do anything for our friends to lay their needles down; and we yearn for those contemplating the end of their life to see their true value.
Since those years so long ago where we asked for material possessions, life has taught us a few things about what is important.
Life has also taught us a thing or two about the permanence of the fear, pain and sorrow that so tightly clings to our every day.
We need help. We need intervention. When we are sick, we need doctors.
When we are struggling emotionally or mentally we need a counselor.
When we are terrified of the darkness in our lives we need the strong arms of a father to comfort us.
However, the doctors of this world often have no solutions, the counselors are out of answers and the fathers are too often absent. But our need remains and we cry out to God, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”
We need our Savior, our God, the only one who possesses the ability to make all things new (Rev 21:5)!
With fists clenched, eyes shut and heart rending, we fail to hear the still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13) that quiets our fears, pacifies our pain and lifts us from sorrow. That voice speaks tenderly, be comforted (Is 40:1), I am with you (Jos 1:9; Ps 46:1-4; Is 43:1-2; Heb 13:5).
You have been given the gift you have always wanted, needed and desperately longed for.
Satan would love to have you focused on all that you have to lose, but in the twinkling lights of Christmas we remember how we have been given much more than anyone could imagine.
Our Lord has heard the prayers of his people, he has acted and he comes to us now. He knows that our greatest need is a nearness to him, and he comes to us as Immanuel, which means, “God with us” (Is 7:14; Matt 1:23).
The gift of himself is a gift he had been pointing to since the beginning and throughout history (Gen 3:14-15; Deut 18:15; Is 7:14; Jer 33:15; Micah 5:2).
As he came in Christ Jesus, he has come as our Great Physician, (Mark 2:17) calling us to repent and have our souls restored by the authority he alone possesses to reconcile us to him (1 Cor 5:17-19).
He has come to be that Wonderful Counselor (Is 9:6) guiding us to his cross to witness true self-giving love and to comfort us with the words of eternal life (John 6:22-68; 1 John 1:1-4).
He has come to restore us to Our Father in Heaven and to hold us fast by his arms that were once outstretched for our forgiveness, eternal life and victory over Satan. We pray, “O that you would rend the heavens and comes down.”
Come down is just what he did, in the form of a child, in the form a man, and emptied himself by dying so that you might live with him forever (Phil 2:5-11; 1 John 4:9). We rejoice this Christmas season for how the mountains shook when he came down and breathed his last (Matt 27:54) and when he emerged from the grave (Matt 28:2), reducing all of the fear, pain and sorrow we thought so permanent to nothing but a vapor.
This year our Lord reminds us how he has come to provide us all abundant life (John 10:10).
This year you might lose your job; the chemo might not work; you will still miss your loved ones, your family will still struggle; your friends will wrestle with addiction; and many will contemplate the futility of life. But you, they, me … will not be navigating 2018 alone. God is with us, and God is for us (Rom 8:31; Jer 29:11).
Nothing can remove the reality from you, nor take from the hope that is found in knowing you have a place in God’s kingdom (John 14:1-3; Rom 8:37-39;).
Despite what this life brings, your soul clings confidently to the promise that the mountains in our life have been reduced to a vapor at the coming of our Lord, and will fully be removed on that great last day (Heb 6:19-20; 11:1; Rev. 21:4).
So we sing with renewed passion the words of “Joy to the World”: “Joy to the world, The Lord is come!”
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or pastorlovejoy @rocketmail.com.