My favorite Christmas carol is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” It is hauntingly beautiful and, particularly this year, it is my heart’s cry: “Come, Emmanuel– God with Us, save us. Ransom us from captivity.”
There is no doubt that this world is held captive by sin and suffering. The reality of a fallen world is sickness, selfishness, greed, violence, and death. And too often, the captives don’t even realize the need to be saved. C.S. Lewis said, “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
We struggle, we scheme, we very creatively search for ways to sate the soul; but we really need to cry, “Emmanuel, save us.”
This Christmas is more somber than in years past. In the past six weeks, two friends, one “in real life” and one blog friend, have lost their precious children. A beautiful 8 year old girl and a sweet 22 month old boy are missing from Christmas celebrations, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much their families hurt.
Emmanuel, be with them in their grief.
Several of my family members have health problems, some chronic. There is something especially disheartening about futilely watching while people you love suffer every day, not knowing what–if anything, you can do. And the incontrovertible fact is we will all suffer the failing of our bodies.
Emmanuel, strengthen our spirits, though our flesh fails.
Two people I follow on twitter are fighting for their lives– Raquel Esparagozza, a twenty-two year old young woman with cancer, and Andrew Lawton. He’s also only twenty-two. Not only because they are exceptional people, but also because they are so very young, many people are concerned and praying for them. When the young and strong fall, we become starkly aware of our own frailty. And we pray for them, “Emmanuel, save them from death.”
Ultimately, though, this world will fall away. However desperately we cling to it, we all will leave it. And Emmanuel, God With Us, came to us so that one day, those who call upon his name might forever be with Him.
Andrew Lawton’s last tweet before his stroke says simple “2 Corinthians 5:8” That verse reads: “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
Be of good courage, for God became Emmanuel—God With Us and God for us.
Please pray for the Hasslens, who lost Hannah to cancer on November 1, and the Hanleys, who lost Mattias in an accident on December 12. Also pray for Raquel and Andrew, who are still fighting for their lives. May God grant them grace and deliver them from death. I’d also be grateful for prayers for my family: my parents, my sister, and my sister-in-law, who are all suffering various ailments. Thank you.