Last month, I thought December would be awful. If I’m honest, I expected Advent to be a season to be endured rather than celebrated. I remember the week before Thanksgiving driving down the road and telling Heather that I couldn’t do Christmas cards. The thought of sending out a family picture without her in it brought a lump to my throat and hot tears to my eyes. I told her we could send a Christmas card in February or March or right in the 100 degree weather of July, so long as it had her in it.
But in God’s grace, this month has been filled with joy. As we hung her stocking, instead of fear and dread, God gave me a bold prayer. She may not be here with us, but her name is on our mantel. We’ve waited almost five years to know her name, to see those crimson letters embroidered on snow white velvet.
My friend Annie sent a song last night–Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco. The chorus goes, “Take courage my heart. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting. He’s in the waiting. Hold onto your hope. As your triumph unfolds. He’s never failing. He’s never failing.”
My Hope has come. In the dark of night to a humble manger, He came. This morning Lydia was writing the words to Matthew 1:23, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.'” With us. He is with us. No matter how our story seems to start or how it feels in the middle–Accident, Mistake, Broken, Lonely, Abandoned–He came and He is with us.
This morning I got a text from a friend who is praying for our E. She said, “I’m doing a study on the names of God and one in particular has stuck out to me for you and little E. Praying it brings comfort to you while you are not with her physically. Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is There. Praying that the Lord plants this truth deep in the heart of E as well.”
I immediately texted her back with a picture of a small white card with the name Jehovah Shammah written in Hebrew that hangs on the wall where E will soon sleep. And that’s why I love Jesus with all my heart. When every other religion gives a person a list of things to do to earn the favor of its god, my God left heaven, came down, humbled Himself, made Himself vulnerable to pain, injustice, and death, and dwelled among men. He came so He could be there–with the hurting and lonely, the broken and forgotten, the abandoned. When I could do nothing, He came.
In all that waiting, those 400 years of silence, many of God’s people had stopped hoping. But they forgot that God is not only a Promise Maker. He’s our Promise Keeper, and even more He’s our Promise. He’s in the waiting. He’s never failing. Hold onto your hope. Because He came. And He’s there. Jehovah Shammah.
*Top photo by abideinhimphotography.com. Thank you, Robyn, for capturing E’s story as only you can.