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Christmas tells us that God is with us. So where is he?

December 30, 2014

 It’s Christmas. Or it has been (have heard people arguing about that one!)

Anyone who like me has been hanging around church over the Christmas period will at some point have been reminded that one of the names given to Jesus is Immanuel which means God is with us.

It’s amazing to think that this child born in such humble circumstances is God with us. Almighty God, creator of all things steps into our world and becomes one of us. Amazing indeed!

He lived. He taught. He challenged. He healed. And he died. A remarkable life. But a life lived a long time ago. Of course we are told that he rose again from the dead, only to disappear off into heaven. Never to be seen again?

God with us?

Three days before Christmas Day a lorry driver loses control and collides with unsuspecting pedestrians. Three days after Christmas a plane carrying 162 passengers loses contact (Today the first bodies have been found). On the same day a fire starts on a ferry and lives are lost.

God is with us. That is what we are promised. The events that took place all that time ago still have an effect. God is still with us. I can still know that God is with me, whatever I am going through.

I truly believe that. But I have to say that may come as very cold comfort to those who have lost loved ones through what appear to be such random accidents.

Of course what makes these events all the more striking is the scale of things. We have all faced tragedies in our lives. The sudden loss of a loved one. Financial disaster. Mental and physical suffering.

And in those circumstances we say God is with us. I have to say that in the darkest times of my life, while I believed that to be true, it rarely felt like my experience. In the darkness God seemed further away than ever, but still I clung on. Did the question cross my mind “God where are you?”

And yet I can look back now and see that God was there. Not with a booming voice, or a flash of lightning or a burning bush, but in friends and family who selflessly reached out and showed that they cared and that God cared.

I have to say I do not have a theology that believes in a God who works his creatures like puppets, who decides that he will make a plane crash today. Jesus came up against people who thought that a man born blind or a group of workers killed by a falling tower were somehow receiving divine punishment. Not so he said. These things don’t just happen to bad people.

I honestly do not know what I would say if I had to stand before the relatives of those lost in these tragic events. “God with is” needs to be so much more than a neat catchphrase in these circumstances. It needs to be spoken, but somehow as in my dark experiences it needs to be demonstrated and lived out.

The odd thing that life has shown me is that there are those who will be caught up in these events whose faith will be destroyed or their lack of faith confirmed. It is equally true that there will be those who will find faith and others for whom faith will be strengthened.

I hope and pray that there will be those who can bring the love of God into these situations in practical loving God revealing ways.

Life is fragile. We all need that reminder. But these events leave us with so many questions.


I’d be interested in your take on this.


From → Christianity

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