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Isn’t it interesting that we humans, both the introverted and extroverted among us, long to be with others?

Some of my most difficult childhood moments came in middle school when I had to spend several months far from home in a pediatric hospital in Chicago. While at this hospital, I underwent an experimental orthopedic treatment that required constant monitoring. The toughest part was not the pain or getting woken up by beeps, buzzes, and blood pressure readings. It wasn’t even the hospital food (which, let me tell you, wasn’t great). The toughest part was being alone between my parents’ visits. While the hospital staff was kind and supportive, I missed my family.

Isn’t it interesting that we humans, both the introverted and extroverted among us, long to be with others? Being alone evokes fear and trepidation. Being with others provides courage, resilience, and hope.

Not surprisingly, Scripture repeatedly invokes the image of God being with us. In the Old Testament, God promises Israel: “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Ex. 6:7). Amid exile and suffering, God reaffirms this commitment to Israel (Jer. 31:1; Ezek. 37:23). In the concluding verses of the New Testament, a voice repeats this declaration to Christ’s vindicated church: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). Jesus Christ is God with us (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14).

This month in Our Shared Ministry, we read the stories of people living with disabilities. Like all of us, people with disabilities desire the witness that community provides. In fact, the presence of people with disabilities enhances the Christian community as we learn to appreciate God in each other. In any and every situation, we are better when we are with God and each other in gracious, supportive, and honest ways. To borrow a phrase from Scripture, “The Lord is our God, and we are his people” (Ps. 95:7, CEV).

This June the synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America will meet on the campus of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. When the synod delegates gather to pray, worship, and deliberate, they won’t be alone. God will be with them. The prayer and worship theme of Synod 2024 is, appropriately, “God With Us.” Synod delegates will need God’s presence and wisdom as they take up matters both joyful and difficult. Please join me in interceding for God’s gracious presence as our delegates meet, pray, and discuss the work of the church.

In tough times it can be hard to remember, but “God with us” leads to abundant life. In his book With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, author Skye Jethani writes that life with God “begins and ends with love. God’s love provokes us to treasure him, and in our treasuring we discover the joyful truth that he also treasures us. Love is the beginning and the end, the origin and culmination of our relationship with God. And along the way it provokes wonder, illuminates discoveries, and ignites joy.”

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