I was standing on my back deck in tears.
I asked my wife to join me in prayer with the hopes that God would bring some level of peace to my heart. Just before praying I mentioned to Andrea, “What does celebrating a baby in the manger have to do with what is going on in my life right now?”
There were three plates spinning. A personal health concern that worsened by the day. A looming job change and the agony that comes with saying good-bye. And a sudden family crisis that brought me deep sadness the more I thought about it.
I had begun to study the Christmas story in Luke 2 in preparation to teach during the month of December. With it fresh on my mind, I stood on my back deck asking a legitimate question, “What does celebrating a baby in the manger have to do with what is going on in my life right now?” We were preparing to leave later in the day for the Thanksgiving holiday. But as you would expect in the moment, holiday marketing and the nostalgia of family traditions and Thanksgiving were not even on my radar. I was fearful. Discouraged. Hurting. And in need of help.
My wife and I paused to pray. I confessed my disillusionment and what I perceived to be true. I gave thanks to God for the circumstances along with asking for peace to help me get through the day (Phil. 4:6-7). And surprisingly, as I prayed, I experienced a peace that I couldn’t explain.
A few hours go by and the family and I get in the car and make our way towards our relative’s house for the holidays. As we drove, I could not help noticing the dazzling colors the sunset brought that evening. And as the day turned to night and the sky changed from red to deep blue, I found myself contemplating the creation story.
I thought about Colossians 1 which speaks of Christ’s supremacy and him being God’s agent in creation. It says in verses 16-17, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” 1
As I repeatedly glanced up, I marveled at the expansiveness of the sky and the thought that Jesus was involved in creating all of it.
And then the answer to my question from earlier in the day came. This same babe who was laid in a manger was fully human and fully God. He is the one who, according to Colossians and Hebrews 1, “holds all things together” and is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” 2 He was God, very God, and at the same time a helpless baby, totally in control of all things.
This reality that the baby in the manager was the “one who created all things” and the one “who holds everything together by the power of his word” caused me to step back from all that was going on in my world and rest. He was in control then. He is in control now.
As I began to rest in this reality, I was reminded of what the gospel writer Matthew wrote when he quoted the prophet Isaiah. He said,
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 3
Not only is Jesus sovereign and in control, but he was given the name “Immanuel” (which means, God with us). God, very God, came to be with his people. And so the message of Christmas was relevant to the message that I needed to hear that day. God is with me.
And so as you journey through this holiday season and close out a very difficult year, please hear these words of encouragement and hope.
Jesus is holding ALL things together. And the one who is holding all thing together is WITH YOU.
1 Col. 1:16-17 New International Version
2 Heb. 1:3 New International Version
3 ESV Matt. 1:23