Where do you look when your world feels like it’s on shaky ground? This Advent season, join us in looking to our firm foundation, our Immanuel: God with us.

Looking Forward to Advent 2021: The Hope of God With Us

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Though I was raised in a church that celebrated Advent with beautiful poinsettias lining the altar and colors for the season, it wasn’t until recently that I began to understand the visceral feeling and meaning of Advent. And, truthfully, it wasn’t until my current season of life that anticipation took on a life of its own.

My husband and I have wanted children since we were married five years ago. Our first will be born in January 2022. What I didn’t expect was all the waiting that pregnancy itself brings along with it — waiting for the next appointment to hear my child’s heartbeat, waiting for a kick (while asking my belly, “You still OK in there?”) and longing for the day when I see my son on the outside.

But this season has reminded me of a greater gift we yearn for in the depths of our souls. The gift of God — our Father, Savior and Friend — face to face with us as we enjoy a fully satisfying relationship with him forever.

We long for God with us. Here. “On the outside.”

This year, as the global pandemic continues, many people experience social, personal and spiritual instability. But we can lift our eyes to an eternal, solid foundation and find our rest in him, Immanuel. God with us.

During Advent, we can remember that God was not only with us on that silent night 2,000 years ago. He walked among us to give us hope and salvation; he dwells within us now to grant us power and peace; and he prepares a home for us in eternity. John 14 reflects each of these truths.

God with us then

“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)

We, with our privilege of hindsight, oftentimes read Scripture the way many watch a scary movie, explaining the obvious to characters who, of course, cannot hear our sage advice. “Immanuel means God with us!” we shout to the Gospel characters. “Don’t you know who he is?”

But Jesus did not look the way his community envisioned the Messiah would. And they had no writings on the doctrine of the Trinity when they asked, in John 14:8, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us” (ESV).

In John 14:10, Jesus patiently replied, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” reminding his followers that he is the only way to life with God.

Jesus Christ incarnate was literally God with us, walking the earth we walk and weathering the pain we feel. He was God in flesh alongside disciples who, at the time, only glimpsed this idea.

While we may scoff at the disciples, thinking we’d have more reverence standing in the physical presence of the Lord, we must remember the enormous privilege we have in reading about his life in his own words now. And, more than that, we have a greater asset than they did to aid our understanding.

God with us now

In this honest yet tender chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus prepares his disciples for the shock of their lives: his death. He’ll be physically gone, and they’ll be left in the hostile world that murdered him.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:25-26 (ESV)

But, to prepare them, he gives them a promise, fulfilled by the Father: He will send someone who is a Helper, a Counselor and an Advocate who will teach them (John 14:26) and grant them peace (14:27) and power (14:12) that they cannot currently imagine. He says he will be in his followers (14:23), even while he prepares an eternal home for them in heaven.

This person is the Holy Spirit. While Jesus was called Immanuel in his earthly life, the Spirit is God with us every day, right now — indwelling those who belong to him, accessible to all who call on him. Our God has made his home in us and given us the stability, peace and strength we need in this turbulent world. Moreover, the Spirit reminds us that something even better lies ahead.

God with us forever

As Jesus encourages his disciples toward hope, he reminds them that they will be face to face again one day, in a perfect eternal home with the Father.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 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 14:2-3 (ESV)

God’s people, secure in relationship with him because of Christ, can be assured that they are loved (John 14:21) and taken care of by their eternal, sovereign, omnipotent Father. And he grants everyone this opportunity.

Advent is a season to eagerly await Christ’s second coming and our eternal home with God. This hope was not only for the disciples to whom Jesus spoke these words but is also for us today.

We have a room in the house of the Father. He will not leave us as orphans (14:18). We can be sure of God’s great love. And we needn’t let our hearts be afraid (14:1,27), because we can embrace the peace and promise Jesus leaves for us.

Now that’s something to hope in.


Join us in remembering who God is

As you learn to embrace God with us — as the Son, Spirit and Father — consider joining us this Advent season as we explore another Gospel, Luke, in this year’s devotional, “Making Jesus Your Solid Foundation.” You can sign up for the devotion series here.

As you walk through the entire Gospel of Luke in the month of December, you’ll be reminded of the character of this God who never leaves your side. And as you study Jesus’ words about God’s upside-down kingdom and the true source of life, we hope you’ll remain in anticipation of Advent this season and until the Lord returns.

Rebecca Kelsall
Words by

Rebecca Kelsall

Rebecca Kelsall is a journalist with Cru®. She graduated in 2013 with a B.A. in multimedia journalism. She is proudly Hispanic American, a dog-mom, and interested in culture and psychology.

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Guy Gerrard
Photos by

Guy Gerrard

Guy isn’t much of a city person. Paddling down the Wda river in northern Poland with participants of a Cru® summer mission project describes a great place for him to photograph. He likes being outside, doing anything with water, and he enjoys making things with his hands. Guy serves as a photographer for Cru.

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