Unwrapping Christmas: The Story

2020 has been a chapter many people were not expecting. In many respects, a forgettable page in the story of our lives.

You may be asking the question, “why me” or be “ready to hit the reset button,” but hit the brakes; God is not finished with your story just yet!

In times like this, we need to be reminded, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God will redeem your story, so when you look back, you won’t focus only on the pain but on His faithfulness to restore your pain.

We learn from the Christmas story that following God will stretch your faith and what you feel capable of doing.

Very few people have initially felt sure or secure in themselves to accomplish the plans God has for them.

I’m not sure anyone was prepared for the way that Jesus came into the world. Even Joseph and Mary, who were devoted to God, were caught off-guard by the preemptive announcement of Jesus’ birth.

For Joseph, this was a serious matter of faith. To understand why let me give you the cliff notes version on a Biblical Hebrew engagement.

The word translated as betrothed in Matthew 1:18 comes from the word mnesteuo, and it means to remember. In the New Testament, this was used in relation to a wedding proposal.

You were to remember the pledge you have made to marry someone. The marriage engagement was a legally binding agreement, and to break the engagement vow was the same as breaking the marriage covenant.

So you can imagine how Joseph felt when just a short time before the wedding ceremony, Mary approaches him and explains that she was visited by an Angel who informed her that she was with child from the Holy Spirit.

That sounded like a creative narrative to cover up her promiscuity.

As Joseph anticipated the day of marriage, busy building a home for her, when suddenly everything came to a crashing halt.  Joseph’s plans have been completely decimated.

The question of “why this is happening to me” would have been natural.

Wallowing in your circumstances will not change them but will make it more difficult to get back up.

It’s in the pressure cooker of life that who we are rises to the surface. Adversity reveals a person’s strengths and the areas they need to work on. It reveals how we’ve been building our life.

We learn in Matthew 1:19 as Joseph finds himself facing a devastating situation, that he was a “just” man.

The word “just” means righteous, one who honors God’s law.

In Joseph’s bewilderment of Mary’s announcement, he maintains his character and integrity and resolves to divorce her quietly to minimize her public shame and consequences.

Joseph did not come to this decision lightly, but we learn that he paused and considered these things.

Making a decision at the height of our emotions will rarely produce the right decision.

Joseph’s thoughtfulness posed him to hear from God, via a messenger, who confirms Mary’s story and instructs Joseph to take Mary as his wife and to name the child Jesus.

The naming of a child in Jewish culture was significant. By Joseph giving the child a name, he is declaring that this is my son.

Joseph’s action also meant that Jesus was of the lineage of David, fulfilling a key prophecy.

What’s peculiar about this part of the story is the gospels give two names for this child, Jesus and Emmanuel, but He’s only ever called by one.

Emmanuel is a title, and it means God with us. Jesus is a reminder of God’s proximity to us.

Even in the unexpected chapters of your story, even when life presents you with circumstances you did not see coming, God is not far off. He is with you!

What’s your story look like?

  • Are you perplexed by the way things have unfolded?
  • Have you questioned where God is in all of this?

Christmas reminds us that even when we can’t see God at work, He is with us and is working out the events of our life. Don’t be bound by your emotions or circumstances but trust God even when life makes little sense.

Merry Christmas!

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