I still recall the day my husband stepped off the plane after 14 months of separation due to military deployment. I knew he was on the way home but also was aware of how many things that could affect it, alter it in some way. And some of those happened and almost changed the arrival when he was eating with a friend he had not seen and nearly missed his flight back to the United States. We had learned to trust God for safety for him as well as me and the delivery of our first child that occurred while he was half a world away in a war zone, but I needed the assurance of seeing him and having him hold me in his arms again.
I can easily recall other such moments that were major points of significance to me throughout my lifetime but for each of us there are needs for reassurance in what seem like the ordinary moments of our lives. We see it clearly when a baby or toddler looks everywhere in the room to find out where mom is if she is not holding him or her. They need a point of connection, a sense of not being abandoned or alone, a feeling of someone bigger and stronger making them feel safe and protected.
Crisis points like separation from loved ones, health crises, loss and death, accidents, and so many other things stand out as the things that highlight what is true every day for each one of us no matter how much bravado we may appear to have that belies the need beneath it.
And assurance comes to us in many ways. It may be an unexpected card or phone call that comes just at the time we most need it even though the person could not have known that. It comes in simple ways like a friend taking my hand briefly on a recent Sunday morning. But it also comes in grand and glorious ways like hearing our cancer is in remission, a financial need has been met in miraculous ways, and more.
Without a doubt, the grandest and most glorious way assurance came to us was in Christmas.
The fall of mankind had resulted in the world becoming a dark and fearsome place with humankind isolated from the intimacy they had with God before that choice in the Garden of Eden that changed everything. Adam and Eve knew an intimacy none of us can imagine of God walking with them in the Garden, inviting them to name the animals and providing for any need they might have. But they missed the hidden danger of the serpent because he was cunning, clever, and did not appear at all like he was.
Mankind experienced so much in that loss, but God promised that He still had a plan and a way. He made provision time and time again and spoke to the prophets that He would come again and restore mankind to Himself for all who would believe in Him.
God offered assurance that despite the fall, He would lead them back to Him and they would not be alone or without light forever despite the difficult and hard consequences of their choices.
The time of waiting for that grand and glorious evidence of reassurance was long and many gave up and stopped believing. And when they did, they lost hope and sought to find whatever assurance they could make for themselves by more wrong choices that never satisfied.
And then it happened as God promised. His words were true, and He arrived in a humble stable one night to a young couple chosen by Him to provide the earthly parents to Jesus, his Son and God in the flesh. People could hear his voice, touch Him, watch how He walked, learn the tone and cadence of his words.
Christ came amid a dark world to assure mankind that He loved them, they were not alone, He had not abandoned them, and He had a way for them to come close to Him again. He spent 33 years on the earth showing us what we had struggled to believe. For those who did believe, they found hope and faith and assurance. He changed the people He created despite the world itself not being changed.
We were perplexed when God’s plan meant He would die and leave us in his earthly form, but while here He gave us other promises that we could hold in our hearts.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”John 14: 3 (ESV)
“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
The disciples wondered at his words about always being with them as He departed through the clouds into heaven, but He had promised a sure promise of how He would fulfill that.
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”John 14:26 (MSG)
And for those who believed in Him, that “Friend” would be the solace at all those crisis points. He would offer the assurance that could touch each one of us at the same time, in ways that were not possible when Jesus was here in earthly form. What a grand and glorious gift of Christmas that we can have long before Christmas Day arrives. And then there is the promise Paul writes about to hold fast to.
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV)
It is not yet December 25, but this is a gift you can open now. No matter where you are in the world or what this season may be for you, no matter what crisis point that may be your current circumstance, He offers the gift of assurance that you are not alone, not abandoned, not forgotten, and He invites you to believe.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)