WHERE IS GOD WHEN… (Part 1)
“She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room available for them at the inn” (Luke 2:7). When we hear this verse we think of a quiet, peaceful scene, temperature just right, gentle animals nearby while Mary holds a beautiful baby in her arms. That’s the way Hallmark portrays it.
The reality was that 2 very young people, only married a few days, find themselves far from home in a dark, damp, cold and very smelly cave. There was no privacy and no sanitation. We can only speculate that a midwife may have been there to help. But maybe not.
Have you ever been in an animal pen overnight? Not nice! She has just spent a week on a donkey’s hard back bumping along day after day. The trip was dirty, hot and dangerous. And she’s 9 months pregnant with her first child. I’m sure they prayed for a nice place to rest and have the baby but God didn’t answer that prayer the way they expected. This was the way He provided for His Son to be born into the world.
What’s wrong with this picture? Couldn’t God have provided better than this? Didn’t He, and Mary and Joseph, deserve the best? Do you think they wondered where God was when all this was happening? I’m sure they did.
Why does God allow it? Actually He more than allows it; He ordained and mandated it to be this way. He does it because He knows this is best (Psalm 115:3). We only get small glimpses into how He uses adverse circumstances that seem to make no sense at the time. From our perspective in time, we can see how Jesus’ birth set the tone for His whole life and ministry.
Being born naked in a wooden feed trough (manger) for animals sets the scene for Him dying naked on a wooden cross. It shows His humility; “He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made inhuman likeness” (Philippians 2:7-8). He came into the world with nothing, had nothing while here, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. He identified with the poor and rejected, and certainly they (we) can identify with Him. People tremble to approach a throne, but it’s easy to approach a manger.
Jesus went through all we go through (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16) starting with His birth. He was born bearing the only cross a baby can bear: extreme poverty, contempt, indifference and rejection (John 1:11). He was born outside Jerusalem and died outside it as well. He became an outsider so we could come inside with Him.
God used the adverse circumstances of Jesus’ birth that made no sense at the time. He uses adverse circumstances in our lives as well. We’ll look at that in the next blog.
Psalm 115:3 Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him.
You’ve heard the story of Jesus’ birth so often it may not register any more, but think about it as if you are hearing it for the first time. Mary and Joseph could have wondered where God was when all this was happening, but looking back we can see God had a plan. Where can you now see His plan in your past when you couldn’t see it at the time?