“The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” –Hebrews 13:5
In thirty-two years of marriage, my wife and I have moved twenty-five times. Yes, you read that right. Some of our moves were unspectacular ventures across town. But others were major moves from one state to another, starting a new job and finding new friends. By far, the hardest moves have been the ones that we didn’t see coming. It’s one thing to plan far in advance; it’s quite another thing when you need to quickly uproot.
It’s likely you have neither moved as much as us, nor been in the position of having so many new beginnings. Yet, it is quite likely that you have had a major change of life, either wanted or unwanted. Whether it is divorce, death, leaving a church or neighborhood, or any number of significant changes, there is one reality that will never ever change: God has given the promise that wherever we go, he is with us; the Lord will not abandon us.
Life never stays the same. Even if a person were to make a conscious decision that nothing would ever change in his/her life, that person would still inexorably grow older day after day, year after year. Even if a mother wants her little one to stay a child forever, it will not happen. Eventually, we all must come to grips with the great truth that change is a very important part of life. We all need to, at some point, begin again.
In this time of year, the Advent season and the approach of Christmas, we can gain great comfort from a God who feels what we feel and has experienced what we have experienced. Sometimes we might get the notion that God doesn’t really know what we are going through because he is so much different than us. But the incarnation of Jesus Christ says different. If you think about it, the largest and most significant move of all time was God moving from heaven to earth. There is nothing more radical than the Son of God becoming a human. There is no greater movement.
“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood,” says Eugene Peterson’s translation of John 1:14 concerning Christ’s movement from heaven to earth. Because Jesus made his big divine move, it brings hope and meaning to our little movements here on this earth. God is not so otherworldly that he has no understanding of what we go through every day. The Lord Himself began again with a move like no other.
The promise given to us that God will not abandon us comes in the context of being afraid of what will happen to us because of a lack of money and power. Surrounding the promise are these words: “Don’t fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us. That should make you feel like saying, ‘The Lord helps me! Why should I be afraid of what people can do to me?’”
God is not some white-bearded old dude who is clueless to our concerns and needs. God isn’t sitting in his heavenly recliner asleep and snoring. Instead, God is attentive and engaged in our happenings. And he has done it through the Lord Jesus, in his incarnation. “Jesus understands every weakness of ours… so whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Perhaps this holiday season you are lonely. Maybe you are grieving a loss. It could be that you, like me, have made a move and find yourself beginning yet again. Your frame of mind right now might be that you can barely see beyond today and cannot even imagine what will happen tomorrow. No matter the circumstance, regardless of who you are, where you have been, or where you are going, there is a God who exists on heaven and earth who completely knows and understands your situation. And he stands ready to help you begin again and start something new.