Jesus Is “God With Us”, Even in the Winter Doldrums
by Deacon Christine Maddux
It has been my pleasure to write a dozen of these columns since August, and each time inspiration came readily and words flowed freely. But not today, as I face the empty page bogged down by the flu, with the physical and mental energy of a slug. Gazing out my window I see the same thing I have seen for days: rain, grey sky, barren trees, flat light, soggy ground, with nary a cardinal or goldfinch to brighten the landscape. The winter doldrums have seized me, inside and out.
I rifle through my topic file, browsing through ideas that excited me in perkier times, but none of them sparks any creativity today. Yet I trust in God to supply my need, and I tell Him so: “I’m dry here, Lord, please help!” I close the file and return my groggy gaze to the scene outside where I find nothing changed, yet everything somehow different; God has shown Himself to me anew in the sacred everyday scene.
In a mere whisper, without fanfare or drama, He reminded me that He is Emmanuel — “God with us” — as He quietly reawakened me to his blessed provision of rain. Granted, in our fallen world (Genesis 3:17-19), excessive rain can bring flooding and hardship. Yet in truth, rain is a precious and essential gift from God that we sometimes take for granted. (How well I remember praying fervently for rain during the drought and forest fires here in 2016!)
The value of rain is obvious in the Bible, in which the agrarian people living in a dry climate have no trouble connecting rain with life itself. It is readily recognized as God’s blessing, e.g., “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God” (Hebrews 6:7).
Non-farmers today may have more trouble appreciating the life-giving gift of rainfall. Yet if we ponder God’s everyday blessings through the lens of Holy Scripture, we can rediscover Him in the gift of rain or whatever other aspect of his provision we see before us in Creation.
God has revealed himself in his created world since the beginning of time, which people throughout the ages have seen and still see today: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). But to stop there is to miss the richer revelation of God in the Bible, where the grand story of his masterful plan to reunite Himself and humankind through the love and redemption of Jesus unfolds like a beautiful tapestry spanning all of time.
And the focal point of the whole, glorious story is not just a nameless, impersonal “force of nature”, but a real person with a given name – Jesus, our Emmanuel or “God with us.” He arrived on earth two millennia ago “in the bleak midwinter” (as the beautiful Christmas carol goes), to forever shine his Light into this dark world. So whatever winter doldrums you may find yourself in today, or may find yourself in in the future, He is with you. Look for his Light and receive his love, even in a sacred, everyday scene. “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28).
Christine Maddux is a deacon at Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers. She invites you to church Sundays at 10:30, and welcomes your questions and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Crossroads Chronicle, January 2019.