by Calven Celliers
“22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1: 22 & 23NIV)
When you think of the Christmas season, what comes to mind? What’s going on around us can easily distract us from seeking intimacy with Immanuel. Christmas is, however, a time when we remember that God sent Jesus to dwell among us and rescue those who were lost, orphaned, and without hope. Jesus was “God with skin on” – a man who experienced temptation, persecution, pain, and grief, but also joy. He understands us, loves us, and promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
But having said that, I can only imagine how Jesus’ disciples and followers might have possibly questioned this reality when they experienced very real feelings of abandonment, huddled behind locked doors following His death. They feared what might happen next. Would they be arrested and executed, too? Despite Jesus’ efforts in the final days of His earthly ministry to help make them understand the reality of His abiding presence always, I reckon they were still unprepared and stunned by His absence, left with feelings of grief and uncertainty.
2020 has been a long, hard year. Perhaps there have been moments when all of us have felt abandoned and overwhelmed when challenged with health issues, job losses, financial crises, and relationship problems. It’s at times like that, that it’s perfectly human to wonder why God doesn’t immediately swoop in and fix everything. Feelings of loss and abandonment seem especially keen over the holiday period. This Festive Season it may feel for many like they are living on the fringes, merely going through the motions. And so, this Christmas, more than any other, may we never forget that God is still with us. He hasn’t disappeared.
Jesus comforts us in the Gospel of John saying,
“16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” (John 14: 16 – 19NLT)
What was true of the disciples and those early followers is also true of you and me. Without the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, encourage us, lead us, and guide us, we too will not make it. And here’s a blessed truth worth celebrating this Christmas, the Holy Spirit is not fickle in His commitment to you! He is not just with you when you feel spiritual. He is not just with you when you’re at your best or when you’re on your knees. He abides in you. He comes to be with you forever. The Holy Spirit lives within us and promises to comfort and counsel us. You can count on Him!
In his letter to the Galatians the apostle Paul put it like this,
“4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4: 4 – 7NIV)
And that’s what Christmas means to me!
As we wrap up the NHCF Blog for 2020, I wish you all a truly blessed Festive Season. Whilst we may not know what 2021 holds, we do know Who holds 2021, and He will be with us every step of the way. He will never abandon us!