Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
OK, let’s be honest; this is horrible. It’s a good thing that Mary’s faith is solid as a rock. She needs that to keep from getting depressed.
But there’s a marvelous lesson here. God did not spare Mary from suffering. Just traveling by foot or by beast of burden to Bethlehem while nine months pregnant is suffering enough. But then she’s unable to find lodging and gives birth in a barn. Yuk!
And it’s not going to get any easier. Mary will witness things that no mother should ever have to endure. Sure, her life will have its moments. Shepherds and wise men will show up to honor her child. She will know, for absolute certain, that all her pain is part of God’s plan. But that pain will still be beyond anything you or I will ever go through.
The Bible isn’t about avoiding trials; it’s about God never leaving us as we go through them. This answers the question that everyone asks – where is God? Gordon Lightfoot put it best in his classic song:
Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Even a small trial can be a big challenge is we can’t see God’s hand in it. Lesser trials that don’t make sense can be big tests of faith.
This is an area where Christian fellowship is precious. When we can’t see God walking with us, there’s nothing like a good friend we can see.
Being that friend is one of the greatest honors in Christianity. You get to be God’s representative in a situation of consequence.
If you have an opportunity to play that role, do not take it lightly.
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