For me this season, Emmanuel "God with us", feels a whole lot more like "God, where did You go?"
It seems like everywhere I look right now there is heartache, tragedy, death, destruction, loss, and brokenness. Shattered pieces with sharp edges. Tear-streaked faces. Trembling hearts and shaky hands.
There's a lot of pain, and not a lot of Presence.
Broken hearts are crying out in a deafening roar, only to be met with holy silence.
I wanted to have the answers. Struggled to. Thought I did. Maybe.
Yet I feel it fading.
Suffocating darkness taking over, clouding out the light. Facts become doubts. Truth becomes suspicion. Motivation seeping into worthlessness. Hope crowded by dullness. Joy shoved aside by depression. Peace morphed into constant chaos of the soul.
I know there's a battle. Warfare waged. Especially here at Christmas, where the light of Christ should shine the brightest, should offer the MOST hope, the MOST joy, the MOST peace...
Yet suddenly, it's least.
Where did it go?
Can it even come back?
Maybe these questions are circling in your heart like vultures, too, pecking, diving, swooping, taunting, ready to go in for the kill. You've fought. You've tried. You've done all you can. You've prayed and read your Bible and sought God. Wrestled. Demanded answers. Begged for rescue. You were brave. You did "everything right" and yet nothing changed. The waves kept right on pounding, and now you can't breathe, and you know Jesus told you to keep your eyes above the waves but the saltwater is stinging them and you don't want to swim anymore. You're sinking, and you can't do anything about it, and you cry out, but it feels like He doesn't hear you.
You know there's a war, but the battlefield is so messy and there is so much blood and the causalities are piling up and your arm is sore from holding your sword. Your back hurts from all you carry and your armor is chinked and cracked and feels like more of a burden than protection. You're tired. So very tired.
It'd be easier to give up. So much easier. To put it all down and roll over and play dead. What's the fight worth, anyway, if everything just gets harder? If you're going down anyway? If you're drowning anyway?
My wise brother in Christ said something recently that resonated, and I think it all boils down to this one thing.
"When I feel like I can't fight anymore, when I can't go another step, I go back to this simple question - could I stop believing in Jesus? The answer is no, I can't."
Can you stop believing in Jesus?
Even when it seems like NOTHING is fair and there is ONLY heartache and pain and despair. When it feels like the future ahead is bleak and hopeless, when it feels like everything you've ever known is crumbling or maybe never even existed in the first place...I can't stop. I won't stop.
My friend said to me "We can't stop believing, because we know the truth, and its because of that truth that you'll come through this, and this will pass."
My friend said "Jesus is strong when you're weak, and even when you can't see Him or feel him or hear Him, He is still fighting for you."
He's still fighting. Even when you can't.
Surrender your battle. Not to the enemy, but to our fierce, loving Warrior. He won't be silent forever. He won't let you drown. It might feel like you're coughing up water and choking on the tears, but He's got you.
Let Him carry you a while. Then get back in it. Because the battle is REAL. And all of this DOES matter. You matter. Your reactions and responses matter. Your influence matters - probably a lot more than you will ever realize.
Emmanuel. God with us.
He first came thousands of years ago on a cold, dark night - and He'll come on this, your cold, dark night of the soul, too.
Don't stop asking for Him to come. Don't stop looking, even when you're sure He's given up on you. He hasn't. Don't stop seeking, even when you're certain He's gone. He's not. Just wait.
Don't stop believing.