Do you ever wish that God would tell you what’s coming next?
Have you wondered, as I have, why God does (or allows) certain things?
Do you ever wonder why He usually doesn’t tell us?
As a parent, I’ve come to realize, perhaps, some of the possible reasons.  We’d argue with Him, that’s it’s really not a good idea, and there’s no way we could survive such an ordeal.  It doesn’t add up on paper or make sense from a rational point of view (limited by our human understanding, of course). Or  We’ve already tried (fill in the blank) in our own strength, and it didn’t work… or we’ve been praying for this certain thing to happen for a long time, and it hasn’t happened yet.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I am once again struck by how many unforeseen, uncomfortable, unfair, inconvenient, and downright frightening things transpired in the the lives of Mary and Joseph, called to be the earthly parents of the Christ-child.
You can read the account from any of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John), but I’m utilizing Matthew’s account in Chapters 1 and 2 to give you the nutshell version.
- Mary turned up pregnant – out of wedlock (from the outsider’s point of view). The truth is, Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit”, and Mary was still a virgin. Imagine, however, the shame she felt from family and friends who couldn’t and wouldn’t believe her explanation. No God-fearing teenage girl would wish for something like this to happen.
- Joseph, a good and righteous man who loved his fiance very much, was suddenly outraged and heartbroken that his betrothed was pregnant – and he knew it wasn’t his child. He was faced with a terrible and heart-wrenching dilemma.
- God sent an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream, reassuring him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him, and that the child was from God. He could proceed to marry her, but not be physically intimate with her until after the child was born. (Hmmm…. I never really thought about the difficultly of telling a newlywed he had to wait several months before they could consummate their marriage!)
- Late into the pregnancy, Joseph and Mary had to travel a long journey to Bethlehem so Joseph could register for the census — at a most inconvenient, difficult, and dangerous time.
- Of course, the labor had to start while they were gone – and there was not one motel room open in the entire city! So they ended up in a barn with smelly animals – to give birth to the purest human being Who would ever walk this earth. No comfy labor and delivery suite here, and no excited and happy grandparents nearby to help.
- Shortly after baby Jesus was born, a wicked King Herod sought to kill the child, so Joseph (who was warned once again in a dream from God) that he had to take Mary and the baby and run for their lives, this time, to Egypt. Right after you’ve had a newborn is not a good time to have to pack up and move again- in the middle of the night, no less. They’d never planned to live in Bethlehem, but now they were having to move again – suddenly and without much warning.
- Thankfully, God did send financial provisions through the wise men who brought expensive gifts to the house where Joseph and his young family had settled in Bethlehem, according to Matt. 2: 9-12. Thankfully, the wise men, also warned in a dream, kept the location of the Christ-child secret, and did not tell King Herod. I’m certain that these gifts helped provide for them for many months, as Joseph likely lost a lot of business having to move around so much.
- King Herod, irate from being outsmarted by the wise men, ordered all the Hebrew male children, ages two and under, to be slaughtered — hoping he’d kill the child who seemed to threaten his authority and position. Even though God had warned Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt with little Jesus just in time, they most certainly suffered great emotional distress, knowing that their friends and neighbors in Bethlehem were losing their own children — because Herod wanted to destroy their child. Ever heard of “survivor’s guilt”? I’d imagine they suffered something like it.
- Finally, in Matthew 2:19, Herod is dead, and God tells Joseph in yet another dream, that it was safe to go home. Finally, they’d get to rejoin their families… or so they thought. Since Herod’s son was now in office as king, Joseph was warned again in another dream to go to Nazareth in Galilee, instead of to Israel. One more change of plans.
As difficult as these events were, they were each part of God’s perfect will and plan, to fulfill prophecies which the Lord had spoken through many prophets, hundreds of years before!
Matthew 1: 22-23: “Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 2:14-15: So he [Joseph] got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.
Read the other two prophecies that were fulfilled just in these two chapters: Matthew 2: 16-18, and verse 23.
Are you going through difficult circumstances that don’t make any sense?
Joseph and Mary certainly did. How did they survive, and not lose their faith in God or commitment to His plan? Here’s a few gems that stand out to me in this account:
When they heard from God (through an angel in a dream, usually – but He speaks in different ways), they obeyed instantly and without arguing.
From their responses, and everything the Bible says about their moral and Godly characters, they had to have trusted in God’s goodness and trustworthy, loving and wise nature.
Here’s what we witness in the midst of this harrowing account of two young people and a tiny baby that would change the world:
…the Plan and Purpose of God (even though they didn’t understand the plan in those moments)
…the Providence of God (if only they/ we had GOD’S perspective!)
…the Protection and Preservation of God (many death threats, on the run often, but kept safely)
…the Peace of God (that had to keep their hearts from jumping out of their chest!)
…the Provision by God (when there was no way to get money, food, lodging, shelter, etc.)
…the Power of God (there is NO KING on Earth like King Jesus!)
…the Personality of God (trustworthy, faithful, loving, wise, etc.)
Just today, November 1st, 2017, I was in the recording studio here in Brentwood, TN. I recorded two songs that tell of the birth of Jesus. One is called “Sweet Baby Jesus”, and I wrote it many years ago for my third grade students to sing for their Christmas program at the school in which I taught. The second song is my all-time favorite carol: “O Holy Night”. What a beautiful and compelling piece of music to convey the life-altering truth that Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, condescended Himself to leave the glories and comforts of Heaven and come to earth. (Stay tuned if you’d like to hear or download these songs in a few weeks. Find me at www.facebook.com/beckywrightmusic or www.beckywrightsongs.com or www.twitter.com/becky_wright and subscribe to www.inspiringhopeblog.com )
Wrapped in human flesh, He lived on this earth for 33 years, facing every temptation, hardship, and the most extreme suffering that any human being has ever or will ever endure. He willingly offered His life as a sacrifice to pay the debt that would cover the sins and provide forgiveness to all who would trust in and follow Him.
He probably was not born exactly on December 25th. However, Jesus was born. For that, I celebrate. For that, I worship and sing songs, and decorate my house with lights, for He is the Light of the World! His mother Mary, and adoptive father (so to speak), Joseph, endured great hardship to make sure Jesus survived to adulthood. Yet, it was ALL in God’s perfect plan.
Do you belong to Christ? Are you following His plan (in the Bible) for how to live? If so, you can be assured that whatever you’re facing is not outside of His loving and wise plan for your life.