Meditations on the Reality of Christmas: 12. Uncertain Life but a Certain God
Lk 2:6,7 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
How we take for granted our daily security. If we live in one of the so-called Western nations, we live in a period of history that is more affluent than any time before, and with that affluence comes a measure of security. Yet, having said that, life is still uncertain. We can become unwell, have accidents, lose our jobs, have relational upsets that are not of our making, find ourselves in financial difficulties. That is what life is like in this Fallen World that ‘goes wrong’.
Mary and Joseph are being blown around by the winds of unforeseen circumstances. She is just about to have a baby that it not his. A year ago, he would never have dreamed of a future together like this; neither would she, but God turned up and shared His will for them. And then the emperor started having silly ideas like counting every single person in his empire – including in Israel where they lived, so they are forced to trek to Bethlehem, but we’ve seen that before. So they get there only to find crowds of others who got there before them, but for the same reason. The only difference is that Mary is about to have her baby. End result – a manger in a stable or even perhaps a cave out back of the inn.
If you were making an honest assessment of their circumstances you would have to say their lives are ever so slightly uncertain. Yes, they have both had God-encounters and so behind all the present circumstances, the bigger half at least is down to Him (the emperor is the other ‘smaller half’ of this uncertainty). Now consider their needs, because at its most basic, life is all about human needs and satisfying them. They have, I suggest, a need for mutual trust. All marriages are about that and if it hadn’t been for a dream, Joseph wouldn’t even have been here. As we’ve commented before he’s a pretty spectacular guy. I mean, if your finance tells you she is pregnant and you know it’s not you, then that raises some pretty big trust issues. God turned up? When has that ever happened? In the Isaiah prophecies. Hmmmm. And then the dream that seemed so real but was it just wishful thinking? Quite a remarkable young man.
But then there will be the families back at Nazareth, maybe some of whom are now here in Bethlehem also being counted. How much did they know of these things? How much did they believe? What would they think of this ‘irresponsible’ couple? Only time will tell. And then there is the question of how they will live? Well perhaps Joseph will be able to do carpentry repair work around the place; there is always the need for a good carpenter. But it’s all a bit uncertain and they don’t live in an era of insurance or state benefits. Perhaps more than any of us have known, life for them is uncertain. The biggest question mark over them must be over what they have been told about this son of theirs who is going to be a deliverer. What does that mean? What will that involve?
Yes, uncertainty in every direction, but then there is God. For some of us He is a big question mark, the great unknown. Does He really exist. For others of us, yes, we are certain He exists and we can sing, “He’s my rock, He’s my fortress” and other similar words, but in the face of the uncertainty of life. is He really here for us?
God chose this couple, I believe, because she “found favour with God” (Lk 1:30 because of the sort of girl she was) and he was righteous (Mt 1:19), but more than that I believe He chose them because He knew they would believe. Why they would believe is always a mystery but He knew they would and, similarly, He chose you because He saw you and knew you would believe. Remember that when the days are uncertain. God knows you have believed and will believe. Hang in there, look to Him and watch the belief grow in you. Hallelujah! You are worth watching! And God is.