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God With Us

When God shows up, God shows out

By Bishop Don diXon Williams
December 2009

In the Gospel according to Matthew 1: 23, we read these profound words: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and she shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is ‘God with us.’”

These are words we will hear a lot during this season. We will hear them as a part of our Scripture readings, as a part of our Christmas dramas, and as recitations given to our children for the Christmas program. There are times when you hear something said so much, the message loses its power.

As I reflected on the year, I saw where those three words, “God with us,” were really not in the forefront of my thoughts. But as this year draws to a close, I have been reminded in powerful ways that in all

aspects and circumstances of life, God is indeed with us.

In June, I was blessed to hear my daughter sing on the grand occasion of Bread for the World’s 35th anniversary dinner. What most folks did not know was that the week before, she had lost her job due to the slowing economy. In July, I found myself attempting to give words of inspiration to 2,000 people with three coffins lying before me. I had known and loved this family for more than 30 years. They were the victims of a double murder and suicide; I was told the economy, in part, had a role in this tragedy.

In October, I stood beside my beautiful wife of 38 years as we laid her mother to rest. 

Because each of these events was extremely stressful, you could get the impression that God was nowhere to be found. But upon further investigation I could see God’s presence manifested in each situation. My daughter’s unemployment allowed her to spend the most precious last months with her grandmother.

Although three perished in this family, one was saved. We know without a doubt God was with him. My wife, through her loss, found an inner strength she did not realize she possessed. Things she did not think she could do, she did because God was with her.

The thing I like about God is that God in Jesus Christ does not only show up in our personal situations. God also shows up with us as Bread for the World members walking the halls of Congress trying to change the hearts and minds of our legislators as we continue to push for foreign assistance reform. God joined us in June on Lobby Day. God was with Bread for the World President David Beckmann as he testified on the need to reform foreign assistance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I cannot say for sure what the future holds, but I can say with complete assurance that God will continue to be with us in all aspects and circumstances of our lives. As an old preacher once told me, “When God shows up, God shows out.” And that, to me, is Good News, in any season.

Don Williams, a bishop of the United Way of the Cross Church of Christ, is a long-time staff member of Bread for the World.

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