Tears sprang to my eyes during Thanksgiving week as my dad said, “Julie-girl, thank you for coming.”
For the past 10 months, my father has not known who I am. While he will always be my father and I will always be his daughter, it feels like Alzheimer’s has stolen this identity from us. This disease has robbed us of our shared history and conversation.
I have traveled back and forth across the Pacific between East Asia and San Diego several times over the past year as my dad’s dementia has progressed. I have known that each time I leave, a little more recognition and cognition will be lost before I see him again. I have known and expected this. I continue to grieve this loss.
So why am I so thrilled that my dad actually said my name after many months of silence?
Hearing my dad say my name was a gift to me. It meant that for one brief moment, my dad knew I was his daughter. We made a personal connection.
It was also a poignant reminder that as my dad and I navigate through this valley of shadows of fading memory, God is here with us and He is our peace. My heavenly Father will always know my name and my father’s name. We are not promised life without difficulties, but we are promised God’s peace.
In eastern cultures, names often signify a person’s character or ability or even destiny. The Bible gives several examples of this.
In Genesis 3, Adam gives Eve her name, which meant, “the mother of all living.” God changed Abram’s name to Abraham in the covenant God made with him, making him the father of many nations .
When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he was given instructions on leading the children of Israel out of the oppression of Egypt. One of his many questions was, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God did not shrink back from that question but answered, “Tell them that ‘I AM has sent me to you,’” (Exodus 3:14-15). God gave Moses His personal name to reveal his unchanging sovereignty and supremacy.
God links his reputation with his name.
In a sermon entitled “I am Who I AM,” John Piper says:
When God names himself, we may be sure the name is packed with who he is and what he intends to do. God does not choose names for himself at random, say for the sound or for an ancestor or to avoid embarrassing nicknames. He chooses names for the sake of revealing things about himself that will deepen our love for him and enlarge our admiration and strengthen our faith. [emphasis added]
Matthew’s gospel in recounting the Christmas story says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21).
His name, Jesus—our Savior. This name shouted to the world that He would be our sin bearer-bringing peace between God and us.
The prophet Isaiah also reveals who this child is by giving several other names.
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given… and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).
Micah prophesies of the Promised Ruler coming out of Bethlehem and how his greatness would reach to the ends of the earth. Micah ends with this: “And He will be our peace,” (Micah 5:5).
God chose the names Savior and Prince of Peace to reveal attributes of Himself that will deepen our love for him, enlarge our admiration, and strengthen our faith.
He is my Savior and He is my peace.
Peace in the valley of shadows and in the storms.
Peace when the desires of my heart don’t seem to match God’s plan for me.
Peace that stills my anxiety over family conflicts and world conflicts.
Peace while I wait for results of medical tests.
Peace as I wait for God’s perfect time to say, “Well done good and faithful servant” to my Dad.
Peace that is beyond understanding.
He offers Himself, to be our peace.
He reminds us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine,” (Isaiah 43:1).
Our Savior is not only my peace, He knows my name.
And not only does He know my name, but He invites me to know His name.
“Those who know your name, trust in you, for you Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” (Psalm 9:10).
As I know his name, I trust Him more.
He has linked His name and His reputation to us in a very personal way.
To be Jesus, our Savior.
To be our Prince of Peace.
In what way is God offering to be your peace in the Christmas season? How does understanding His names (Savior and Prince of Peace) help you to trust him more?
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