I have five grandchildren. Three live about 30 minutes away while the other two live with their parents in the apartment on the far side of my kitchen.
Other friends have grands who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. To develop close relationships with their little ones, they have established very specific and deliberate ways of staying in touch, like regular Skype calls or recording readings of favorite children’s books. Those strategies are somewhat effective, but all ache for hugs and lap time.
On the other hand, my little darlings burst into my space off and on all day long. Their raucous laughter echoes through the house. Periodically I hear the pads of their little feet thundering down the hallway. And when their precious hearts are broken, sobs reach my ears instantly.
Our relationship is immediate and always. We never have to find the right time zone or settle for blown kisses. This precious intimacy is possible because I am WITH them.
When the angels declared to Joseph in a dream that “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23 ESV), they were announcing that the God of heaven and earth would never again be far off. He would make His home among them and be WITH them.
Caring for our loved ones who live with mental illness can be a lonely and isolating journey. This Christmas let us rejoice in the truth that we are never alone, that God is always near. Let us celebrate the miracle of “Immanuel”—God WITH us.