The Christmas Story and the Providence of God

December 16, 2016 0 Comments

Have you ever have a time in your life when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong? Did you ever say: I just can't deal with this in my life right now? If so, then take heart. This is exactly what happened to Mary and Joseph in the Christmas story of Luke 2. From a human perspective, things for them just kept getting worse. One adverse circumstance after another. Against a backdrop of inconvenience, hardship, and crisis came the greatest blessing God ever gave to this world!

First, there was the TAXATION

It is easy for us, because we have the advantage of hindsight, to see how the decree of Caesar Augustus (that all the world should be taxed) was a vital part of the providence of God. It is easy for us to quote Romans 8:28 but we weren't there when this very inconvenient decree went forth. Taxes are always a nuisance, however this was probably a registration, or census--not so much a taxation. God purposely orchestrated the decree of Caesar Augustus behind the scenes in order to get the right people in the right place at the right time. The Christmas story is a remarkable illustration of the awesome providence of God.

Second, there was the TRIP

Compounding the inconvenience of this government edict was the fact that everyone had to return to the birthplace of their fathers (where their family originated from). They didn't just go down to the local post office--they had to travel 80 miles from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. This trip was a real hardship, not just because it would take around 4 days to accomplish, but because Mary was "great with child". She was in the final stages of her pregnancy. She and Joseph must have thought: You've got to be kidding me! I just can't deal with this right now. Which brings me to my third point . . .

Third, there was the TIMING

Many times in our lives, we fail to understand (let alone appreciate) God's timing in the circumstances of life, the unplanned events that cross our paths. From Mary and Joseph's perspective, the timing could not have been any worse. From God's perspective, the time was just right. "When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son" (Gal. 4:4). God makes all things beautiful in HIS time. Often the things we pray for don't get answered immediately, and we begin to question the Lord. But God's delays are for our own good. The answer will come and when it does, it will come at the perfect time.

Fourth, there was the TURNING AWAY

Undoubtedly, the most severe hardship of all for Mary to endure was giving birth in a stable "because there was no room for them in the Inn". Being rejected from the only decent lodging place in town must have been the proverbial "last straw". Could things possibly get any worse? This rejection kind of sets the stage for the entire life of Christ. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not" (John 1:11). Yet in spite of the inconvenience, the hardship, the "bad timing", and the crisis of rejection, the Savior of the world was born. This trial resulted in the triumph of God's sovereign plan of redemption. This hardship produced HOPE. This burden which seemed too great to bear became a great blessing--the greatest blessing this world has ever seen.
So the next time you complain about things going wrong, remember the Christmas story. Remember that God's Word is true when it says: "And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). Put your faith in God "who works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11).
And have a Merry Christmas!

Richard Seefried
Harrisonburg, VA
Richard Seefried has a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry, and is licensed & certified by the NCCA as a clinical pastoral counselor.