"...The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')."
Most people in the English-speaking world are probably familiar with these words, even if they've never cracked open The Book. I wonder how many aware of the context...
"...the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm." They were surrounded by an enemy that seemed so much bigger and stronger than they.
Sounds familiar. Does your heart tremble? Are there situations in your finances, family and friends that cause your heart to sink?
Isaiah was sent to, "...tell him he doesn't need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers..."
I guess their enemies didn't exactly appear to be "burned-out embers." Neither do mine. The enemies of fear, anxiety, discouragement...fill in the name of your enemies...seem alive and well and quite capable of overwhelming. I forget that they are, in fact, a defeated foe. Their power destroyed by the cross. Power and authority over them granted to me.*
In the face of his doubt that these fierce enemies (who had a frightening track record!) were powerless to harm him, King Ahaz was challenged to ask for a sign, "Make it as difficult as you want--as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead." He refused to ask for such a sign, but he was given one anyway.
"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! A virgin will conceive..." Yep, that's pretty difficult. Now I can't prove to you that, in fact, a virgin did conceive. Naysayers abound. I believe. This I know for sure--He is indeed Immanuel, God with me!
Signs of His presence surround me. I hear it in the laughter of my children. I see it in the glory of orange and pink splashed across the evening sky. I see it in the lives of my friends Paul and Judy who are spending Christmas on the other side of the world caring for the heart-broken and hungry. I hear it in the peaceful voice of my sister-in-love who still waits for her miracle.
For all the promises I still wait to see fulfilled, I have the comfort of the fulfilment of this one.
He is present, with us, in the midst of the mess of life.