The name Immanuel is one of the most comforting of all the names and titles of Jesus. Immanuel is translated for us in Matthew 1:23 which says: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” In Jesus we see how extreme God’s love is. When we are low and down in the valley, Jesus is still Immanuel — He is still God with us. He’s with us through the pain. He comforts us in the waiting. When we are anxious about our future, He gives us courage. As we climb the mountain, He keeps us safe in His arms. In every moment, we have God with us.
Are you in a valley now? If so, consider the bottom line: We may enjoy God on the mountaintops, but we get to know Him intimately in the valleys:
- Seek His strength: Everyone have experienced “mountaintop moments,” or what some may call “spiritual highs.” Those special moments filled with joy at seeing what the Lord is doing in our lives, when we feel overwhelmed with a purpose. We feel His strength. We were exactly where we needed to be and God was clearly working in our lives and in the lives of others. Who doesn’t want more? Who wouldn’t want to put down roots and make the mountaintop our home? It would be nice, but life is not a long series of mountaintop experiences. Life includes walks in the valley, rocky paths, thorny bushy ways and as well as mountaintop experiences and that is where we are dependent on the strength of God the most. 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV) tells us, “…If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
- Fix your mind: Hebrews 3:1 says, “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:2 says, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” God is with us. God became man. Jesus Christ became human in order to provide forgiveness for the sins of humanity. He tasted death so we can have life. Because Jesus walked this planet He understands our weaknesses. He understands the temptations we face and the trials we endure. He is uniquely equipped to help us. Because of these wonderful truths, the author of Hebrews encourages his readers – and us – to dwell on the person of Jesus Christ; to set our whole mind and fix our eyes upon Him and to be fully occupied with Him. Fixing our thoughts on Jesus gives us the strength to stand firm in our faith and not waver. In practical terms, it means putting Jesus first in my life in every decision I have to make.
- Dig a well: The Valley of Baca was part of the desert country. The valley was filled with thorns, wild animals, pitfalls, vipers and all sorts of danger. In addition, there were wells of water but they were often far apart and hard to get to. It was nearly impossible to travel this valley without facing extreme hardship and suffering. That is why the Valley of Baca was named because it literally means “Valley of Tears.” You may be going through your own valley of tears today. You may find yourself in a dry land without water. God has already prepared a well for you to be refreshed. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you but to be with you to the end. God has amazing plans for your life. He wants you to fulfill your dreams and live a life of blessing, hope and promise. You will get there – as long as you are willing to do your part and trust God to do His part. And the more you lean on and trust in Him through that process, the sooner you will be ready to dig the well in anticipation and preparation.
I hope you will take a moment in the next couple days to be quiet and spend a few moments reflecting on the fact that God came to us in Jesus. God is with us. Reflect on that. Think about the marvel of the nativity. How did God fit all of his divinity into a baby? And what kind of God would do this? Of course, the more wonder-filled question is why would God do this? Why would God come to us this way? Why would God set aside his greatness and majesty, humbling himself to come live amongst us?
There is one great purpose for Jesus coming to earth. And it is echoed throughout the New Testament in different ways and with different words – but all with the same meaning and thought. Why did Jesus come? Jesus came seek and save the lost.