God With Us

November 16 2018
November 16 2018
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What does it mean that God is with us?  If we say, “God be with you,” or we pray that the Lord would “be with” a loved one, what are we really getting at?

God’s presence with his people is a glorious fact:  he will “never leave you or forsake you” (Heb 13:5); in fact, you can’t escape his presence (Psalm 139).  Although Jesus departed bodily, through the Spirit he remains with us “to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).  Knowing that the Almighty is with us gives us reason not to fear but be at peace:  “Fear not, I am with you…” (Isa 41:10).  Romans 8:31-39 is a blessed tirade to say that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Still, there are some serious misunderstandings of what it means—on the ground, day to day—that God is with us.  The story of Joseph reveals many things that are not promised when God promises to be with us.  The Lord was with Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39:2), but this didn’t undo the fact that he had been beaten, abducted and sold into slavery—those facts remained.  God’s presence with Joseph did not lead to a reunion with his father Jacob for over twenty years!  God’s presence with Joseph did not insulate him from insidious temptation or false accusations resulting in wrongful imprisonment that went on for years and years.  From so many angles it appears that Joseph got a raw deal, and yet the Lord was with him and loved him (39:21).

The Apostle Paul was on mission at Corinth announcing that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, when he was strongly opposed and reviled by many Jewish people there.  So the Lord redirected Paul to preach to Gentiles, reassuring him, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you…” (Acts 18:9-10).  Even when Paul was in prison, he could be content to be in the center of the will and the presence of the Lord (Phil 4:11).

Can you be content with God’s presence, even if every­thing else in life goes wrong—job, health, relationships?  Are you ready, with joy and thanks, to embrace the Lord amidst trials?  Is it enough for you to have Jesus?  May God grant us the daring, radical faith to say, with Joseph, that even if people mean to harm us, the Lord “meant it for good” in the eternal scheme of things (Genesis 50:20; cf. Rom 8:28).


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