The Christmas Crisis

The young couple was poor, and their little backwoods town scorned. Yet they have been remembered and their story told for centuries. Through such as they, God can work his mighty plans.

So, the angel Gabriel went to Nazareth to tell a virgin that God had chosen her to bear the long-awaited Messiah into the world. He would be called Emmanual–which means “God with us”! For the child to be born was truly God, the second Person of the Trinity. He would pay the price to free us from sin and restore us to a right relationship with God.

When Mary told the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants” (Luke 1:38, TLB), the courageous thirteen-year-old faced great danger. Her fiance would know the child was not his, and unless Joseph provided his protection, the townspeople would stone her to death as required by the law.

Yet Mary said “yes” to God.

It was no surprise when Joseph considered breaking their engagement. But God intervened. In a dream, an angel told Joseph not to hesitate, but to take Mary as his wife, “for the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit … you shall name him Jesus (meaning ‘Savior’), for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20, TLB). Joseph knew the price he would pay. He would lose his good name. The townspeople would believe that he slept with Mary before their marriage, something strictly forbidden. His livelihood as a carpenter would fail if people took their business elsewhere.

Yet Joseph said “yes” to God.

Sometimes, God asks us to bear great burdens. Why must our loved one die? Why will no one hire us? What purpose does deformity and lengthy illness serve? How can our difficult situations can lead to anything but more trouble? Like carrying a baby to term, instead of ending the unwanted pregnancy. Won’t that complicate–maybe even endanger–the mother’s life? Or forgiving those who repeatedly hurt us. Won’t that just encourage them to continue?

Life is full of challenges. Some we bring on ourselves through our own choices. Some come to us through choices others make, or the unrelenting forces of nature. At times like those, we can sink into fear or choose to reap the joyful rewards of trusting God and the wisdom of his ways.

Focus:“Stop being afraid of what you are about to suffer … remain faithful even when facing death and I will give you the crown of life–an unending, glorious future” ~ Revelation 2:10 (TLB).

What about you? When, most recently, have you trusted in God while facing great difficulty and been glad you did?

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