14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14 (NASB)
"’BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US.’" Matthew 1:23 (NASB)
You often hear athletes say God is with them or for them. What do they mean? Do they mean God wanted their team to score more points than the other team? Or are they referring to something more profound?
When the Scriptures say God is with us and for us, they do not mean God is with us in a superficial, vague or scoreboard kind-of-way. God “with us” means God is not a remote ruler, but that God shares in our humanity and suffering to the fullest extent. Jesus ate and wept with us. He died next to us. “He identified with us all the way down – all the way down to death,” as the New Testament scholar Scot McKnight put it.
Plus, God lives in us and makes His abode with us. (Galatians 2:20, John 14:23) If that is not being “with us,” what is?
The incarnation and indwelling Spirit mean God is “with us” in the most concrete, intimate and profound way. So, God is with you and for you even if you get crushed by the other team.
Isaiah and Matthew did not have a scoreboard or personal stats in mind when they said “God with us.” That does not mean God does not think your game is important. It means God thinks you are more important than a scoreboard.
When Paul wrote God is “for us,” he did not have a scoreboard in mind either. Paul said we know “God is for us,” because He set us free, adopted us, called us, justified us, gives us new life and reason to hope. (Romans 8) We believe God is “for us” because He has done very specific things for us, not because we won the game or MVP.
Athlete, God is with you and for you.
If God is with you and for you, then even when you lose, you win. Let Isaiah’s, Matthew’s and Paul’s words carry weight. They are loaded with meaning that speaks louder than scores and stats.
I know from experience it is hard to grasp that because when I performed poorly I felt like God abandoned me and failed to root for me.
The next time you lose or perform poorly, examine your thoughts. Do you feel like God did not bless you, or do you still believe God is with and for you in the most emphatic, important ways?