This holiday season, many of us will gather together in decorated homes and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by giving gifts, eating delicious meals and singing all the usual carols that fill us with hope and love.

But there are those who go through the holidays feeling isolated and alone. The thought of another Christmas may not provide them with the warmth or excitement that many of us feel around this time of year. As followers of Christ, it is crucial that we make sure the people in our lives feel connected and welcome. After all, haven’t many of us experienced a holiday season that didn’t feel quite as magical as it used to? Wouldn’t it have made all the difference if we had someone to reach out and bring us into their circle?

In hard times, it is easy for any of us to assume that God isn’t with us or that maybe He doesn’t care for our needs like we thought He did. After all, if He did care, wouldn’t things be different? Why are we the ones suffering?

The Messiah hadn’t forgotten about His people but was waiting for just the right time to make an entrance no one had expected. 

Over 2,000 years ago, the people of Israel asked the very same thing. “Why us?” Being ruled by abusive powers while struggling to survive and wondering why God would allow so much hardship was something the Israelites experienced quite often. They longed for a Messiah, who would bring them out of darkness and oppression, but salvation was nowhere in sight. 

The Messiah hadn’t forgotten about His people but was waiting for just the right time to make an entrance no one had expected. 

As Matthew, the disciple of Jesus, recounted the details surrounding Jesus’s prophesied birth, he made it a point to include this description in the very first chapter of his book:

“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).

This name would serve as a reminder to generations to come that, despite our suffering, God is still with us. In the midst of our pain, God is here and has already enacted a plan to rid this world of darkness and oppression. This ache we feel, this longing for change, will not last forever because Jesus, our Messiah, promises us that He will come again and bring with Him the kind of true restoration and healing that humanity has been waiting for.

So this holiday season, as you consider the current circumstances of your lives, always remember that Jesus will make an unexpected entrance into whatever you might be facing today just like he did over 2,000 years ago.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us here at the Southern California Conference, and may we never forget that God is still with us.