As I started the week of thinking of being intentionally mindful of Immanuel, God with us I realized if the point is a changed heart and life, not just having a nice word to sing, I need to understand what the word means. If God is with us, who is this God and how can knowing and believing that transform my life? I am reminded of God as Creator, Sustainer, Almighty, Holy, Good, Faithful and many other titles given in Scripture. Each is a powerful and comforting word, but how does knowing that change my life?
My pastor’s sermons from James have been challenging me and I think relate well here. Trials in life are assumed and expected. But the turn from trial to temptation is quick; the enemies of our souls are many. Without help we will frequently land on the temptation side, often succumbing instead of persevering through a trial. James 1 reminds us to call out to God for help (wisdom) in the midst of a trial. Yes, this is what I want to do but how can believing GOD with ushelp me unless I know who He is?
Recently, I awoke with a start from a bad dream. I was hostage in a car being carried downstream in a raging flood. Waters rising, I climbed out onto the car’s roof where I could see a large rock outcropping coming up. As the car rushed closer, I jumped and held on to the rock with everything I had, watching the car being submerged and carried into the dark waters. Like frightening dreams do sometimes, it stuck with me the next day until I mentioned it to a wise friend. Her observation? “But you jumped onto the rock and were saved!”
I was immediately reminded of the sermon from Deuteronomy 32:
“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”
I am definitely not saying my dreams are inspired! But truthfully it had been a busy, stressful week filled with various trials, and my brain was reminding me that I felt overwhelmed. I was getting tired. We may not have physical enemies hunting us down, but the enemies of our souls are always present and watching for that opportune moment of weakness to strike. Worry, fear, anger, anxiety, pride, sloth… [insert your enemies here]. These enemies destroy our peace and prevent spiritual growth, eventually leading to our destruction. Immanuel – help!
The Psalms are full of David’s cries for rescue from his many enemies and one of my favorites is Psalm 18:1-3:
“I love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.”
Who is this God who is with us? He is our Rock and our Deliverer! I encourage you to study the meaning and implications of each of the words in this passage, but the important thing to understand is that when we cling to The Rock of our salvation, we gain a different perspective of the situation.
Enemies become more obvious when seen in contrast to our God’s faithfulness, righteousness, and justice, and our perseverance grows. He is with us, and He is worthy!
Oh Lord God, Immanuel,
I cry out to you this week as the God of righteousness, justice, and faithfulness. You are the God who has and freely gives wisdom for every trial and situation I will face today. Help me to recognize the trial and the enemies of my soul more quickly and then help me cling to you, My Rock and My Deliverer. Immanuel, you truly are with us.
In this we trust.