Hard Joy

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Monday, December 31, 2018

Reading from Luke 2:4-20

Merry Christmas!  It’s almost here.  Perhaps at least some of you are wondering how our reading of the Bible this week is cooperating with the Christmas story.  We’ve been in Hebrews and 1 Peter this week, both of which stress faithfully following Jesus Christ, even when it leads us into suffering.

Face it, the Christmas story centers on the Son of God leaving heavenly glory and entering this fallen world in poverty, danger, hardship and ultimately the world’s worst act of injustice, killing the only righteous man ever to live for the sake of every unrighteous person ever to have been or will be born.

The heart of the message of Christmas involves suffering, but with a goal of joy that makes it worth it.

That’s why we see a baby born and lying in a manger as a beautiful thing!  Tell me, mothers, how many of you would want that for your babies?  No room in the inn, no hospital, no doctor, no midwife, no pain killers, at least none of these that we know of.  Mary had this baby in the rush of the moment at a very inconvenient time and in a very busy place. What was she thinking?  Surely this was not how she imagined it would be.  Didn’t this look more like a crisis than an entry of the Savior of the whole world?  We weren’t there, and time has decorated this event with sweetness and joy.  But was Mary feeling sweetness and joy at the time?  I don’t think so.

This is an important principle that God Himself has experienced with us.  He is teaching us something here.  God the Father sent Jesus Christ the Son of God into this world in this way at this time and at this place.  What was God thinking?  Surely, He wouldn’t want His only begotten Son to have to be born under such conditions, would He?  Did God not realize this was hard on Mary and Joseph?  Did God not want a comfortable, safe place for His Son to come into the world?  Did something happen to God’s plan that messed it up so that Jesus Christ, the King of the universe, missed the Bethlehem hospital?  What was God thinking?  Didn’t He care?

I’m driving home something we need to embrace.  Today, people all over the world celebrate Jesus coming into the world. Music and Art and story books and movies have focused on Jesus’ birth throughout the centuries now, and somehow it all seems so beautiful and good.  Know this: God did exactly what He knew was perfect for humanity to see His love and character of humility so that we bow before Him in awe of His wisdom. God wasn’t missing anything.  Everything was working out exactly as God intended.  Do you believe that?  Can you see that?  Is that true?

That’s how God uses difficulties and hardships and suffering of His people today too.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  God has not missed anything.  He works out all things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purposes.  He has called you.  He is working in you.  As you trust and obey Him and share this gospel message with others, He will use every trial or persecution as well as every victory or success.  God never makes mistakes.  We do.  But God works in the midst of a fallen world of sinful mistakes and through His Son, brings Saving grace that ends in eternal joy.

Hard Joy