A Light in the Darkness

There used to be something magical about Christmas. 
Lights twinkling on the tree and a growing assortment of mysterious presents tucked underneath. The excitement of unpacking our favorite ornaments to hang, each with its own special story. The scent of pine needles in the air and our whole family bunched up on the couch together, singing carols by candlelight.
A celebration of our Maker come near.

The air brimming with hope and the precious holy meaning of it all:
Emmanuel, God with us.
As I’ve grown older, the season’s gotten a bit muddled; it feels more commonplace.
Rachel Olson Christmas

But this one phrase sticks especially close each December, a constant refrain through life’s ups and downs.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Some years I’ve felt God’s nearness closer than anything.
I know it more than I know anything else:
Emmanuel, God with us.

Some years the commercial frenzy of the season overwhelms everything else and I secretly can’t wait for it to be over. But that’s okay, because it’s true every day of the year:
Emmanuel, God with us.

Some years my faith feels stale and God seems distant.
I hold tight to the promise:
Emmanuel, God with us.

Some years I’ve celebrated with friends and patients across the world.
I marvel at the gift of it and offer up my homesickness.
No matter where we’re from or what language we sing in:
Emmanuel, God with us.

This year I’m home and beyond thrilled to spend Christmas with my family.
I’m full of memories of other homes and questions about the future.
Emmanuel, God with us.

Remembering all the times I’ve cried out to God this year and he’s answered in ways I didn’t expect.
Thankful he always meets my needs even though I doubt him time and time again.
Thankful he sees, he hears, he cares.

Emmanuel, God with us.
Christmas Rachel Olson
Wherever you find yourself today, whatever kind of Christmas you face this year – may you know the nearness of Emmanuel, God with us.

His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.

Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Emmanuel is my favorite name of Jesus. Knowing God is always with us because of Jesus helps in the hard Christmases and in the joyous ones.


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