“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:22-23, ESV)

God’s promise to be with us is beautifully woven into one of the names given to Jesus at His birth, Immanuel, giving us another reminder to hold on to in the busyness of life when it can be easy to forget that He is always near.  Even though we may know this is true, it just doesn’t always feel that way. (And the Psalms prove over and over again that we are not alone in this feeling)  

Christmas reminds us each year to remember this truth, to live like this is true as we exist in the messiness of everyday life.  Afraid of something?  Remember He is with you.  He says He fights for you, is a place of refuge, and is your deliverer.  Sad about something?  He is with you, grieving with you, and has words of comfort for your hurting soul.  Confused about something?  He is with you, ready to offer His perfect wisdom to your situation.  

With this in mind, we invite you to complete a special journal exercise inspired by this truth, that He is Immanuel, God with you.  As you go through them, consider God’s response to you.  Use your Bible to look for evidence of how He has responded before, remembering He will never say anything that conflicts with what He has said in His Word.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts in this process, and be slow and patient, quieting your heart so you can hear Him speak.  

Immanuel Journaling:

 *The questions below were adapted from an exercise designed by Sungshim Loppnow to help people practice how to interact with God.  He was inspired by Dr. James Wilder’s book, Share Immanuel. You can visit Dr. Wilder’s website, www.joystartshere.com , for more information.  

These steps are ordered in a way that will build upon the next. We recommend you set aside 30-45 minutes to complete this excerise. 

1. Gratitude  (Write out a prayer to God telling Him what you are thankful for) 

Dear God, I’m thankful for ….

 

 

 

Then, imagine God’s response.

Dear child of mine, …

 

 

 

 

2. I can see you.  (Write what you believe God sees, what you think He observes in you, including your physical sensations.)

Example: I can see you… breathing heavily, scrunching up your shoulders; I can see your eyes beginning to fill with tears. 

 

 

 

3. I can hear you.  (Write what you believe God hears you saying to yourself.)

Example: I can hear you saying to yourself: How will I ever get out of this mess? “Why is my partner not as concerned about this situation as I am?”  “Why do I keep messing up like this?” “I’m so frustrated with myself.” 

 

 

 

4. I value you.  I understand how you feel.  I understand how big this is for you.  (God sees how overwhelming this situation is for you. He understands how you feel. What do you sense God would say to you?)

Example: I understand how intimidated you feel by this situation. It feels all-consuming to you. It feels as if you are about to sink under the weight of this problem. You feel the same way as when your parents announced they are getting a divorce. I understand why you feel sad about this. I can see it has shaken you. I understand how angry you are; it makes sense to me.  

 

 

 

5. I am glad to be with you and I look upon your weakness with tenderness.  (Write about what you perceive God might be saying to you in a kind, tender, loving, and gentle way.) 

Example: I am glad to be with you. I look on your weakness with great compassion. I am always glad to interact with you, even when you find yourself in the midst of intense pain, frustration and sadness. 

 

 

 

6. I can do something about what you are going through.  (Write about what God might be saying as to how He’ll be with you and assist you at this time.) 

Example: I can do something with and for you in this situation, I will strengthen you with my grace. Remember how your friend encouraged you last week? I will continue to provide for you.  Remember the ways that I have been with you in the past? II will continue to be with you in the present, working for and in you.

 

 

 

7. Read your results out loud to someone. 

 

May you remember every moment of every day that God is with you.  May you come to know Immanuel more and more each day.  May you see Him for all He is – loving, patient, kind, good, faithful, almighty, attentive, faithful, wise, just, compassionate, sovereign, eternal, unchanging, refuge, and deliverer (just to name some of His attributes).  He never falters in any of these things.  May you continually find rest in who He is and trust that it will not change.  May the rich truth of who Immanuel is encourage and strengthen you.  

Because of the baby who came to us hundreds of years ago, God is with you today.  He will be with you tomorrow.  He will be with you always.