It is interesting how nearsighted we can be when looking at life situations. Our tendency is to see the up close and personal situation in our lives and fail to see if from the perspective of distance. It is easy for us to think that we are the only ones to be facing this situation but almost always that is not true. The Bible reminds us to have a far-sighted perspective on life’s challenges.
The Biblical Christmas account is a perfect “farsighted” perspective for us today. Many of us know the “Christmas” account from Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels. We are familiar with the individuals involved from King Herod to the Wisemen, the Shepherds to our Savor and the young couple, Joseph and Mary, whose lives are literally turned upside down. The Biblical Christmas account is not about an “epidemic” that sweeps the world, but rather a crisis created by the Roman Emperor requiring people to be counted in a census for the purpose of taxation. The personal crisis for Mary and Joseph encompasses an unwed pregnancy and the inconvenience of traveling during the last days of the pregnancy. The situation post birth of Jesus turned from bad to worse once King Herod put out a hit on the newborn Christ child. Put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. The crisis was of the “epidemic” scale.
I have always been struck by the humble obedience of the young couple to the Lord’s will in their lives. The announcement to the soon to be bride that she was going to conceive a child was, “And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a ) This was not any child; she would give birth to the long awaited Messiah. Yet this privilege did not make it any easier for Mary and Joseph. The community ridicule would have been enough on its own without the birth in a manger, separated from her family in an unknown community. Joseph’s response to the Lord was the same being a godly man. We learn that after being visited by an angel explaining that the child was conceived through the Holy Spirit we learn. “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,” (Matthew 1:24)
The challenge for you and I is to continue to keep walking with the Lord regardless of the situation swirling around us. Our challenges of living during the time of a global epidemic is not really unique in human history nor is our personal struggles first time events for humanity. We need to remind ourselves that nothing catches God by surprise. We learn about the timing of Jesus birth that, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4) The “fullness of time” reminds us that God’s will is always on time. It was just at the right time that the Christmas account happened. The same is true for our lives today. We need not be controlled by fear but filled with confidence. We know that all of human history is under our Saviors control. We also know that He gives us the strength to handle the challenges that He allows in our lives, just as He did for Joseph and Mary.
This Christmas season will be far from our desires and expectation. It will however be exactly what the Lord has allowed. Let us take time to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas and the blessing that the Christ child has become to those of us that know Him. Let us also work to share the message with those struggling with fear in an absence of hope!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson