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Immanuel and Our Fears

This sponsored post was provided by Burke Care, and written by Jen Arend , which invites you to schedule care today with a certified biblical counselor.

Is there one Christmas theme that strikes you each year without fail? For me, it is “Immanuel, God is with us” (Matthew 1:23).[1] What is it about this name of Jesus that is so gripping? God became a man, stooping down to this sin-cursed earth, taking on the weakness of human flesh, and humbling himself to the nth degree to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). A stable for a King. Washing dirty feet. A criminal’s death. God is with us… 

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” — 2 Corinthians 8:9

Our God is a God who came near. Jesus, Immanuel, God is with us. Collectively and historically in the birth of Christ, God showed that He is a God who draws near. Immanuel is also incredibly personal and intensely practical, as we live our lives each day. God is with you. 

Think of your fears. Fear needs a person.[2] When a child wakes up in the middle of the night, crying inconsolably, what does she do? There is no peace until she is in the arms of her loving mom or dad. She runs to find them, and even an attuned parent will run to meet her in her distress. The tears may continue, and her heart may still race. But by the comforting embrace of her parents, she is eventually consoled. Peace floods her heart, and she can rest again. Fear needs a person. Immanuel, God is with us.

Where do you turn when anxiety strikes? Most of us struggle alone, as though we are orphans. You are not an orphan. Immanuel, God is with us. You can run to him! He is near, and His nearness eventually quells your fears, giving you that “peace which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Often, we read Philippians 4:6 out of context, like a band aid that is supposed to help us with our anxiety. “Do not be anxious about anything…” Have you ever noticed what comes right before Philippians 4:6? The Lord is near. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. Immanuel, God is with us.

How might Immanuel change you this season as you face your anxiety? 

1.      Remember, you are not alone. You are not an orphan, crying out in the dark with no one to help. God hears your cry. As the most attuned Father, He runs to help. He is with you.

2.      Remember, you can run to Him. Will he rebuke you in your fears? No! Would a good parent do that to a frightened child? Of course, not! Jesus is a tender Shepherd, beckoning you to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). He will not turn you away in your fears. You have a Father, compassionate and loving, welcoming you with open arms.

3.      In running to Him, you may not find immediate peace. It may take time, even a long season of remembering who your Father is for you. Just as a child will require time to calm down in the presence of love, so too, you may need time in the presence of the Lord. That is okay. Give yourself time, even as you draw near to the Lord. 

In your struggle to believe, remember He is Immanuel, God is with us.

[1] All Scripture references: Holman Christian Standard Bible.

[2] Lauren Whitman, “Every Day Problems in Counseling,” Lecture 10, (Glenside, PA: Westminster Theological Seminary).

Immanuel, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. (Jn. 6:68)

Immanuel, when I am filled with cares, your comfort brings me joy. (Ps. 94:19)

Immanuel: Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10)

Application:

1.      Where do you turn when you are feeling anxious? Do you depend on your own strength to fight your anxiety? Like a child, run to Jesus. Fear needs a person.

2.      Is there a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of distress? Meditate on that truth or even write it on a card to refer to when you are fearful.

3.      When you feel overcome with anxiety, can you begin with a simple, “Help, Lord!”? Turning to the Lord in any way may just bring a measure of unexpected peace, as you turn and reflect on the character of your heavenly Father.

4.      As you pursue deeper fellowship in the local church, is there someone that you can ask to pray for you? Turning to the Lord is best done in community with other believers. Remember, you are not alone.

As you celebrate this Christmas season, remember Immanuel, God is with us. And if we at Burke Care can help you or a loved one draw near to the Lord in this season, we would count that a great privilege.


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