Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 13, 2020

emergency or Emmanuel?

The word “unprecedented” has been all but worn out in describing the nature of what we have walked through as people, families, and communities of faith and geography in 2020. I suppose that’s because it’s hard to find a truer word. Bodies are under attack by a terrible virus, yes, but I also believe other, equally destructive contagions have been loosed by the necessities of our response to the pandemic. Things like quarantine and personal protective equipment have isolated us in ways that are, well … unprecedented. And I could write for days in detailing the woes, worries, curses, and costs, but …

(Yes, the abrupt stop is purposeful and, oh, how it is needed.)

If we can (just for a few minutes here in this space) quiet all that noise, I would like to offer a clear and concise question. One I believe to be more fundamental than any of the thousand, million others that could be asked. That question is:

“Where do I go?”

Our lives and our world are a full orchard of low hanging fruit when it comes to what can trouble our hearts. But exactly in this moment, in the midst of the minutes that make up this day, our Lord clearly whispers to us, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  John 14:1 (KJV)

I can only imagine how some might respond to that suggestion or the astronomical odds some would give on the reality of living with a quieted, peaceful heart right now. I know. I promise I know. But can you give yourself just a sliver of time today to hear that whisper? To push back against the tide that continues to crest and break over the rocks or sand of your shoreline and just get quiet. Where have you been going for answers? Who has become your expert? Who is the person in whom you place the most trust?

I see a very clear challenge in our right now. A challenge to us in the singular sense, and to all of us as families and communities together. For you, and for us all together, will this be a season of emergency or Emmanuel? Sure, that’s catchy and certainly fits with the blessed event we are Adventing, but I am not trying to be catchy or Christmassy. There is a choice before us. A very real and fundamental challenge to our believing what we believe. A life-altering challenge to our trust. A fierce storm is upon us. Will we be battered about by the fierce winds, frantically filling and spilling buckets of water over the edge of our sinking ship or will others find us with the One who is sleeping below deck? I believe, in many ways, people of genuine faith have mistaken masks and other things like that as the battle before us. But I see us as disciples of Jesus standing in a boat in an unprecedented storm. And like them then, our test now is … emergency or Emmanuel?

These are not times when the light-hearted and more surface experiences of things like “happy” or “fun” seem near. But do not believe the lie the enemy of God is most certainly peddling right now — that deeper and truer things like goodness, joy and peace are not possible. Go to Him. Go below deck where He is sleeping. Don’t rouse. Gently lay the body blows and every bit of your very real burden at His feet. Give Him your worry, anger, fear, depression, indecision, heartache, mistrust or loneliness. Give Him all those things you’ve turned to that were other than Him. Fight the urge to take any or all of it back. Hear Him whisper these words into your heart.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)

This is so very important for us, but there are also kingdom implications. If God wills and also waits in His coming again, there will be other times when being ready with an answer for the hope that is within you could be just what someone else notices or needs. But do you see that chance now? If there were ever a time when a kind word turning away wrath or standing tall and sure as the wind whips around you would cause someone to take notice, it is now. Father, help us be ready. Give us opportunities to share our answer for the Hope that is within me. There are still so many who need You.

When all else around us suggests or shouts otherwise, God is on His throne. Not a single second of our circumstances or sufferings escape His notice. Take heart my brother or sister, He is sovereign. He is near. Emmanuel, my brother and sister. God with us. He who spoke the world into existence and with His life and death and resurrection broke the power of evil and death is holding all of this … and He is holding you. Take heart. Go to Him.


  1. Well said, Thanks

  2. Father….Son…..Spirit, to whom else can we go?!? When stillness and waiting (the active type) are suggested and eventually sought, to whom else can we truly go!?! You, and You alone have ________ . Thank You, Father……thank you mark.

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