So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
We tend to “santa-cize” the Christmas story, when it was, in reality, saturated with fear, doubt, dashed dreams, slander, hurt and devastation. We can realize this just reading the first 8 verses of the onset of Jesus’ life story in Matthew 1:18-25!
- Talk about experiencing every level of conceivable anxiety and stress when you need to have a conversation telling your betrothed that you are pregnant by the Holy Spirit!
- Can you imagine the stares, the looks, the whispers around every corner of your community because you stay with a girl “pregnant by the Holy Spirit”?! Especially when you tell people you made your decision to stay in such a relationship based on a dream with an angel!?
- Can you imagine every hope you had for your future, every romantic dream dashed in a moment as you choose to submit to a plan that isn’t your own; a plan that seems broken at best or at least it feels like it’s breaking you?! A plan you can’t “fix” and would have done anything to have prevented.
Maybe you can relate on some level to either Joseph or Mary. If so I pray you can take hold of the hopeful Word that was given to them in Matthew 1:23 (NIV). Our God’s name doesn’t mean “prevention” but rather the promise of His faithful presence. …Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
We live in a broken world and tragedy and trials will befall us all (John 16:33) but our God sent His Son into this broken world so that ultimately we don’t have to end in it and we can overcome by the power of His Spirit. The Christmas story brought the gift of sure and Living Hope to us all but certainly didn’t come in a perfectly shaped box easy to wrap (just ask Jesus’ parents)!
When trials and tragedies go un-prevented we can lean into His faithful presence to find sufficient strength and grace to keep on, to look up, to finish this race strong for His glory; the glory of the One who won! And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV) *Remember Jesus submitted to a plan He wished would have been different in order to save our souls. He understands the strength needed to remain faithful in the pain and pressure of our trials and tragedies. (See Luke 22:339-46, Hebrews 4:15-16)
Proverbs 3:25-26 (NIV) tells us, Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. The promise is not for the prevention of sudden disaster in this world but that by the power of His presence we will not be overtaken, we don’t have to be ruined by it!
Daniel 3 is a thrilling read and perfect illustration of the un-prevention of a fiery trial! Yet if you read carefully you will notice between verses 21-23 and 25 the only thing burnt up were the chains that bound; and why?!… because …no other god can save in this way.” Daniel 3:29 (NIV) Only Immanuel, our God with us, can use our worst trials and tragedies to bring about something good; to free us in ways we could not even imagine; freeing our hearts to receive and experience more of His presence and unfailing love.
Dear one, I pray that today if you find yourself in the middle of something you did not choose, something you can not fix, that you would be given the grace to rest in experiencing the peace of His overcoming presence; that, …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV) The good news of the Christmas story is that God has a purposeful plan that includes your life and it is good even when we can’t see it, or understand it and He will never leave us alone within it.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:17 (NIV)
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:9-11 (NIV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)
…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
God bless you muchly~