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God…..Where Are You?

by: Pastor Jeff Heiderscheit … December 20, 2012

It is almost a week since the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and I have noticed heavy hearts remain among the people I encounter.  A question I get over and over from people is, “Where is God in all of this?” That is a normal response when tragedy and terror strikes the innocence of our world, and especially true when the littlest and most vulnerable are prey to evil intentions.

Where is God in our hurting world?
Where is God when we hurt?  Where is God when we have doubts?  Where is God when we struggle? I’ll tell you where God is. God is with us…Emmanuel. That was the message of the very first Christmas so many centuries ago. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said that Joseph’s fiancé was to have a baby. Not just any baby – THE baby. The Son of God. And the angel said that he would be called Jesus. All this happened because of an 800-year-old prophecy that said that the Messiah would be called Emmanuel. Emmanuel is a combination of Hebrew words meaning, “God with us”. Jesus showing up on earth so long ago means that God is with us, even now.

Emmanuel means that God took pity on our weaknesses and came and dwelt among us, pitched His tent among us so that we might feel and know that He was near us and was one of us. Emmanuel means that God is with us in all situations: pain, unemployment, divorce, bankruptcy, poverty, illness, surgery, hurt, cancer, and yes, even death. Emmanuel means that even in such situations as these tragic murders God surrounds us with His love, His presence, and His Spirit. Emmanuel means that even in such situations we are not left on our own to brood in our pain, hate, anger, fear, or hurt.

After all, look at the testimony of the Bible. Psalm 23, such a comfort at times like this, says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” That’s Emmanuel!

Matthew 28:20 says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That’s Emmanuel!

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s Emmanuel!

You see, the Christmas season shows us that God is no stranger to our sufferings. God understands our pain. Even if we were to have all the answers, even if we could figure out these sweeping questions like “why does this happen?” even if it could all be explained, I don’t think it would hurt any less.

And, my friends………it isn’t just that God is with us.  If that was all there was to God, it would bring some comfort but it would not bring satisfaction…….God takes the incarnation all the way to the cross.  God also does something about this condition of sin in the world.  We cannot look at the manger without seeing the shadow of the cross.  Jesus would go all the way to the cross to take the sin of the world, and would rise on the third day to open the way to heaven for all of God’s creation.  Now, that is a promise we can put our trust in.  God is with us…..Emmanuel!  May you know the love of God this Christmas season.  And, may it be made known in a very real and moving way to the victims of Newtown, Connecticut.   -Pr. Jeff

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