“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?" Deuteronomy 4:7
The overwhelming majority of those who have ever walked the earth have lived very simple lives. The accoutrements and conveniences of modern life in the West are beyond rare. What we consider “normal” is luxurious for all but the tiniest fraction of the sons of Adam throughout history. The beds found at an average hotel on the side of the highway are something out of the palace of a prince in antiquity.
No crib for a bed. In the Incarnation, the everlasting Word becoming flesh, God did not merely draw near in physical proximity. As astonishing as this is, Jesus went further still. He came near to our condition. He is acquainted with our frame, and He knows the humble plight of the billions of souls who have labored to carve out a meager existence before they return to the dust. If Jesus were to come today, His life would have been far more comparable to the experience of a poor farmer in India than our experience of waiting for our latte in the drive-thru line at Starbucks in our SUV.
He is not just the God of candle-lit Christmas Eve services at mega-churches. He is the Lord of small groups of believers huddled in a basement in Iran where songs are whispered and not sung. He is the Christ of the saints who will meet by a river in the moonlight of Indonesia while we gather around our trees adorned with lights. He is a lowly King! He was born in a feed trough! This is indescribably precious. Behold His nearness to humanity! Take heart, all ye downtrodden and marginalized, all you weary and heavy laden.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge…Psalm 73:28
The Psalmist could not have imagined just how near God would come, and how good that news would be. Who could have fathomed that God would join our story in such poverty and simplicity? Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay. Whatever walk of life we come from, whatever our citizenship or vocation, what great assurance we can find in Bethlehem! What great consolation we find in that workshop in Nazareth! What is hidden from His reach? What part of our lives could be far from Him now?
Jesus is at our table for our meals. He is at the well talking with the foreigner. He is walking in our streets. He knows the toil of hot afternoons and the chill of long nights. Jesus is holding our children. He knows the pain of being misunderstood and the comfort of being with friends. He is weeping with us in our mourning and rejoicing with us in our victories. Make Him your refuge, for by all of your cradles of fear and vulnerability He will stay, until the darkness flees at the breaking of Day.