[I first wrote these words 6 years ago on my personal blog. I was just recently reminded about these events. I pray this story encourages you as it did me once again.]
As I have mentioned before our family celebrates the Christmas Advent. We really enjoy this tradition and the devotional from yesterday especially good. I would like to share some of it with you.
The subject was on Gods faithfulness.
Matthew 2:19-23 (NIV)
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
This is not the biggest part of the Christmas story, but It so resonated with me. As I think about how Mary and Joseph felt at the thought of going home. Here again another angel had appeared and told them they were safe to go home. I can only imagine the Joy and excitement but also the fear and uncertainty as they faced a long uncertain journey. The bible doesn’t say, but I wonder if they still were trying to process all that was going on in their lives?
I mean think of the year (or two) they had just had. Unexpected Angel visits (truthfully that would get me right there.) An unplanned pregnancy, an almost divorce, a long journey 9+ months pregnant, for a census that could cost them dearly. A home birth in a stable. Strange encounters with unexpected guests. Blessings beyond their dreams. A death threat to their child who P.S. was the SON OF GOD! Another long journey to a place they had likely never been. More Angels. Another long journey home, and the uncertainty of what they would find or how they would be received.
I could easily look at their circumstances and think; “My goodness, look at what you have been through. Why would God let all this happen to you?” “Why?”
But that’s not what they did. They trusted God, and they had faith. Though I have to believe that as humans it may have been shaky faith at times. I have to think that when the bible says,
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 NIV
She was really just trying to get a grip on what was happening in her life. But, no where does it say she got hung up on the, “why?” She knew that God had been faithful thus far and trusted that God would remain faithful. Which probably made the whole ordeal look more like:
When they received unexpected Angel visits: God was faithful and revealed his plan. When Mary was found pregnant they had faith that it was as the Lord had told them. Even with the stress on their relationship and all the trust issues this pregnancy brought on, God was faithful and saw them through it. God was faithful in giving them safety during their long journey. God was faithful and provided a place to have their baby. God was faithful to provide for their needs as these unexpected Magi brought them gifts. Even when the life of their child was threatened, God was faithful and gave them time to escape. God faithfully brought them to Egypt and provided for them there. And God faithfully called them home. And faithfully directed them to Nazareth. God had provided for all their needs. He had seen them through what was surely one of the most difficult season of their lives. At least up to that point.
Just as assuredly as Mary and Joseph had to be people of Faith, they had to know that they weren’t alone in this. It was just on their shoulders to believe. They had God with them (quite literally actually. Which is a bit ironic if you think about it.) And God was faithful. He didn’t leave them wondering what to do. He didn’t drop the ball. And just as He did his part in being faithful, they did their part in having faith and trusting that God knew what He was doing.
Which makes me think about my life, and more specifically this past year. I’ll give the short version: Our family moved 1,800 miles in JANUARY this was our second cross-country move in 10 months. We came home to a house that was too small, We struggled to restart a business and find work and make ends meet. This all put a huge strain on our marriage. I became pregnant unexpectedly, and just when I had come to grips that a third child was on the way… I had a miscarriage. Follow that by an intense grieving period. Only to have my husband have a serious back injury that will likely forever change how we live or make a living, and couple that with the financial strain of a loss of income ….and that brings us to now.
Roses right? No, and I don’t think my story is unique. I know we all have years like this but what I am learning is that its the perspective we have. God is faithful but, it is also my job to have faith. And so when I rehash this story NOW it looks more like this:
In January for reasons unknown to us we were led back to Michigan. God was so faithful to give us safe travel. God so faithfully through our friends and family prepared our home for us, with everything we needed. God faithfully provided a job for Kyle, and gave him many of his old clients back. God faithfully provided for our every need as we re-started this business. Even with the stress of Kyle working so much, God was faithful and saw us through some of our most challenging “married moments”. With an unplanned pregnancy, and the subsequent loss of the baby. God has been so faithful to comfort me in my grief and to teach me how to lean harder on HIM. Praise the Lord for that!!!!
Even now as we struggle with my husbands injury and a loss of a large part of our income. God is STILL faithful. We have not gone hungry, All our needs are being met. Be it by groceries given to us, or the anonymous gift that arrived in the mail, to the many gifts of friends and clients, to the unexpected job I have had sewing items for a friend. God has been faithful. And I can walk forward in the assurance that not only HAS God been faithful, He will be faithful.
I only just now, feel like I am coming to grips with all that has happened and I realize I have a choice; I can look at all that has happened and ask “why?” or I can look back and thank God for all the times he has been faithful.
Thank Him, and move forward knowing that I am not in this “life struggle” alone, that like Mary and Joseph, God is with me.
As a final note, the following are some of the key scriptures that I have prayed and meditated on. I can’t help but wonder if Mary or Joseph thought of these words as they walked out their faith? These verses are written and posted in my house. They have offered me great hope and strength. I would like to share them with you that you also may boast of Gods faithfulness.
A reminder to have faith:
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
When I get hung up on the “why?” of things:
Isaiah 55:8,9 (NIV) (I love this whole chapter but these verses in particular)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When I am worn out, and do not think I can handle another thing:
2 Corinthians 12: 9,10 (NIV)
9 But he [the LORD] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
May these words edify. May they touch a soul. May Gods faithfulness be evident. And may we remember Your great gift to us, your son Emmanuel. Truly God with us. Amen.