So the long-awaited Messiah, God incarnate, was forced to make his arrival in a rudimentary barn that reeked of animal poo? Seems like pretty poor planning–perhaps a tactical error by the Almighty?
Unless it wasn’t.
Doesn’t a God-ordained no-vacancy sign in Bethlehem align with everything else I know about his thirty-odd years in human flesh? What an unremarkable savior! Instead of a palace-dwelling ruler, a homeless teacher. Rather than a mollycoddled king, a suffering servant, trudging through the Middle East toward a criminal’s death.
With God’s unlimited resources, things could have gone down so differently.
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. —2 Corinthians 8:9
How many of my own predicaments over the past months have seemed illogical, and certainly un-glorious. Small inconveniences. Excruciating setbacks. Stinky as a stable in Bethlehem. In fact, if I’m brutally honest, sometimes I’ve felt as though God’s gone to an awful lot of trouble to keep me down.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. —1 Peter 4:12-13
Lord, with each passing year I watch the contrast grow greater between the world as it is–as our sin has mucked it up–and the glorious image of how it will be when you set things right. You’ve given me a rich inheritance. How awesome is my future! I can’t wait!
In the “mean” time . . .
Remind me to embrace heartaches and handicaps as my way of participating in your suffering. I know you’re here with me, so I never bear it alone. Besides, my trials are like a holiday sleigh ride compared to the agonies you bore for my sake.
As I wrestle with my short-sighted yearning to create a holly-jolly Christmas experience for myself and my loved ones, I hope to remember this: Your love is all we need. And your Word has proven trustworthy, with not one prophecy left unfulfilled–except those foretelling your return. So I can trust that the joys ahead will far surpass any earthly happiness I’ve ever known or dreamed of.
*Hey friends, 2016 will go down as one of the most exciting yet painful years of my life, and frankly I’m pretty wiped out and still dealing with low-visibility conditions. How about you? As 2016 comes to a close, are you reeling from the snowball effect of challenging life events? Could you use some more peace of mind and joy of heart? I hope you’ll join me as I reflect on John Piper’s daily Advent readings. In the days leading up to Christmas, you can receive these 25 short daily reflections direct to your email inbox. Just scroll down and look for the “Stay Connected” or “Subscribe by Email” box to follow along! Also, you can find and download John Piper’s “Good News of Great Joy” here. Jump in anytime!
I’ve chosen to commit to this 25-day challenge, even while I’m hanging here by frozen fingertips on the edge of an icy cliff, wondering what comes next. This I know: God’s got me, still. As the season ramps up–and your plans go wonky and threaten to derail your focus, ugh–I pray that your heart, soul, and spirit will be blessed and refreshed with a tangible outpouring of Christ’s heavenly peace!