In part four of our Advent series ‘Into the Silence’, Rachel shares with us her own personal journey with knowing the Presence in the silence.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t’ mean to cry. This is so embarrassing.”
Tears stream down my face as I lay in the dentist’s chair.
I am mortified. I am a grown woman crying at the dentist for no apparent reason.
“That’s okay, Rachel.” My dentist gives me an understanding smile.
“Thanks.” I grab a tissue from the tray next to me. “I’ve just been feeling very anxious lately. All of a sudden, I just felt very claustrophobic. Like a wave of anxiety hit me.”
Fifteen minutes and one scale and polish later, I exit the dentist and immediately step into the world frantically unfolding around me: commuters busily making their way home, taxis honking their horns at the cars in front and the crisp December air blowing through my puffy down jacket.
I feel overwhelmed, overly-stimulated and anxious beyond belief.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19)
I remember the verse I read in Psalms one morning when I was felt the pressure of life’s present demands and future what-ifs. In fact, over the last several months I have felt weighed down by the heaviness of anxiety. But it’s greater than that; I have struggled to hear my Father’s voice, and I’ve been desperately trying to fill the silence.
Ironically, I have just finished co-teaching a prophecy course at my local church. For the first 4 weeks, I felt like a complete and utter fraud. How in the world was I supposed to teach others to ‘hear from God for themselves’ when I could barely make out what He was saying to me?
But that’s the good news of the Christmas story – Jesus did not come to be with us on earth because of anything we do, have done or will do in the future; He left heaven’s glory and took on the flesh of humankind because He simply couldn’t help Himself. He loved us too much.
He loves us too much to leave us in a state of fear. To be shackled by the chains of anxiety. To be living in the soul-crushing state of poverty. To be homeless on the streets with nowhere to go. To be denied equal opportunity because of the colour of our skin.
‘God with us’ means that we are never fully alone even when we feel isolated in our anxious thoughts; Emmanuel is here in our poor mental health.
‘God with us’ means that our prayers do not fall on deaf ears even when all we hear is a distant echo; Emmanuel is here in the silence.
I do not know what challenges you are presently facing this Christmas season, but I can assure you of one thing and it hit me square in the face upon heading home that afternoon.
Like so many times before whenever I’ve felt paralysed by anxiety, I turned to worship music. Worship is my ‘sweet spot’. It’s where I hear God speak most clearly to me and therein I long for those few sweet moments of revelation. I turned on my Spotify worship playlist and “Nothing to Fear” by the The Porter’s Gate filled my living room. In the silence of my unanswered questions, God spoke to me through that melody.
“There is nothing to fear, nothing to fear, for I am with you always.”
Dear friends, if there’s anything I have learned over these last few months, it’s this: fear often gives a small thing a big shadow. Although we may feel afraid, we have nothing to fear because we are not alone.
God is with us always.
God is Emmanuel always.
He never changes and He won’t start now. No matter how uncertain the road ahead of you looks right now; we can trust in His faithfulness that God is who He says He is. He is Emmanuel.
I can’t think of more hopeful news than this as we celebrate this Christmas season.
Happy Advent, friends!
Rachel Moreland is a US expat, content creator and writer living in Edinburgh. She is the Media and Marketing Lead at homeless charity Bethany Christian Trust. When she is not working, she is on the hunt for the best cup of coffee and planning her next travel adventure. Read more from her blog With love from Rachel.