Not a complete sentence, I realize, but a compelling concept nonetheless. Webster’s Dictionary defines with as “a companion of; accompanying; next to.” With is companionship, connection, and comfort. With is relational, inspirational, and transformational. With is powerful, protecting, and productive.
One of the most oft repeated promises in Scripture is God’s promised presence. “I will be with you.” He said it to the patriarchs, the psalmists, the prophets, the disciples, and to each of us at the end of the Great Commission. In Psalm 23:4 David said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” In the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:3 it says, “. . . Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
Apparently, God’s presence with us is supposed to mean something significant to us. Scripture is saturated with this promise from beginning to end.
One of my favorite stories of with in the Word is in I Samuel 14. You know the story. Young Jonathan, son of the king, and his even younger armor-bearer are climbing the cliffs against overwhelming odds. They are sustained only by their faith in God and the courage which flows from such conviction.
Verses 1-14 describe the incredible victory for the army of Israel that day, kindled and ignited by the brash courage of these two young men. As Jonathan announced his somewhat crazy intentions, we hear these wonderful words from his friend and comrade in verse 7, “’Do all that you have in mind,’ his armor-bearer said. ‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.’”
Surely these with words brought a smile to Jonathan’s face and courage to his heart! This young friend played such a crucial role to Jonathan. He carried his burden (verse 1), cheered his heart (verse 7), and covered his backside (verse 13). Now that’s a friend!
One of the most tangible expressions of God’s presence with us is the encouragement, comfort, and courage we experience when with His people—our friends and family.
My friends, does life sometimes have you pinned down? Are you periodically afraid, bewildered, disappointed, doubtful, lonely, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, or hurt? God is with you. As Christmas 2018 fades from view, may we continue to remember the greatest with moment of all – Emmanuel: God with us.
I pray your awareness of His loving and mighty presence will be wonderfully magnified as you move into 2019. I pray God will bring His people to you to help carry, cheer, and cover you, just as you do for so many military people by your prayers and support in these crucial days of ministry. Thank you!