Immanuel - Our God is With Us

Rajni Herman   |   December 22, 2014 


Many people have impacted my life, but none compares with Sujata*, whose life and faith have been an inspiration and encouragement. Sujata was born in a very poor family. They did not have the means to send her to school and at a young age married her off to a man named Harinder who worked in Delhi.

This is when her nightmare began. Sujata had to bear physical abuse in her marriage from the beginning. There would be some days of peace and then suddenly her husband would flare up and beat her mercilessly - sometimes even in front of their two children.  Sujata bore it all with no resistance or retaliation, a silent victim of domestic abuse.

After a few years into their marriage Harinder kept falling ill very often and was taken to numerous hospitals with the hope that he would recover soon, but he kept deteriorating. Their lives were shattered the day when Harinder tested positive for HIV. Sujata was advised to be tested too and when she tested positive for HIV also, her suffering and anguish only increased. In mid-2013, Harinder was diagnosed with cancer of the spine and it along with the HIV ravaged his body and he suffered excruciating pain.  In time he became bed ridden and passed away in January of 2014.

There is a desperate and real pain in her voice when she recalls her past. Her suffering and anguish is beyond comprehension. The abuse, maltreatment, financial struggles and the illness itself, took a toll on her health, leaving her in deep depression. When she came to Shalom hospital, Sujata received the much-needed health and medical assistance. She also received  social, emotional and spiritual support which was vital for her sustenance.

In due time, the Lord’s determined love reached out to this physically weak, yet courageous and resilient woman. Mark 6:56 reminds us that “…as many as touched Him were made whole." Wholeness had finally come into her life.  Once a week, a small fellowship acted as a support group for her. A consistent teaching and reflection on the Word of God and praying with other women strengthened Sujata’s life and faith.

Her display of faith was what the Lord used as a gentle yet subtle reminder that YHWH –the living God IS with me. It was a normal working day for me; Sujata had come to the hospital for her check-up.  I asked her how she was coping, and she remarked “I know He is with me."

These words coming from the mouth of this meek and quiet woman were an encouragement to me.  A woman who had very recently come to faith, who had been and is going through seemingly insurmountable problems, reminded me of the reality of the word "Immanuel”- God with us. I began to understand that God is really with me.  My restless, tired, grumbling heart needed this reminder. A reminder and a reinforcement of Christ’s intimate presence every step of the way.

J C Ryle writes that Immanuel promises to be "with us daily to pardon and forgive; with us daily to sanctify and strengthen; with us daily to defend and keep; with us daily to lead and to guide; with us in sorrow, and with us in joy; with us in sickness, and with us in health; with us in life, and with us in death; with us in time, and with us in eternity."

This assurance of our Saviour’s constant presence rings through the words of my favourite hymn "Day by Day."

 “Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.” - Lina Sandell

These words were penned by Lina Sandell following the tragedy of seeing her father drown before her eyes. The ever-present reality of God being with her took her through impossible times.

This season as we sing "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night," may this God of Sujata and Lina Sandell be your ever-present reality, your hope and joy. For truly our God is with us, our Immanuel.


*(name has been changed to protect her identity)

Photo Credit: Anne via Flickr CC

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Rajni Herman

Rajni Herman works as a medical doctor for Shalom Hospital in Delhi - a unit of Emmanuel Hospital Association. She has been married to her best friend George for the past 14 years and they have 2 daughters. Her passions include reading and seeing lives being transformed.

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