As the year closes and another begins, I believe it would be timely to take a look at the final chapter of the Christmas story that often gets overlooked due to its apparent contradiction to the accepted and widespread Christmas message of peace on earth, goodwill to men. I hope that this post brings you encouragement on your journey in the new year.
Here is the rest of the story…
Not long after baby Jesus was born and nestled safely in the manger, only just a short time after the shepherds and angels visited, and barely after the wise men made their journey to worship God’s son, Jesus’ life and His life mission were in danger. Feeling threatened by Jesus and His promised influence, King Herod ordered for all male children two years of age and under to be killed. Can you imagine? The Savior of the world has been born, less than two years have passed (exact age unknown), and already He and his parents have come face-to-face with conflict, controversy, and the devastating but all too familiar effects of sin in the world. Jesus came to bring peace on earth and this is how man responds. Do you hear the irony?
In obedience to God’s warning, Joseph fled with his young family out of Bethlehem into Egypt, a country known to be hostile toward Jews and certainly not the ideal place to seek safety. But being faithful, Mary, Joseph, and little Jesus embarked on a necessary journey, a journey that would be characterized best as dark, dangerous, and full of uncertainty. For Jesus and his parents were forced suddenly into a life as refugees, displaced persons, aliens in a foreign land. I can only imagine the questions, anxiety that plagued Mary and Joseph. How long would this sojourn be? How would they provide for their child, the son of God no less? Where would they stay? Who could they trust?
However, God did not abandon them. God knew full well. The sojourn of Mary and Joseph with Jesus was in fulfillment of this prophecy, “Out of Egypt I have called my son” (Matt. 2:15). When Herod died, God called Jesus and his family out of Egypt to their home of Nazareth, where Jesus grew strong and continued to fulfill his life purpose.
Sometimes we have to take the long route to our desired destination in life. It is not what we planned, but you can be rest assured that it is God’s plan for you. God doesn’t have a ‘Plan B’. He will not abandon you no matter how dark, dangerous, and uncertain life may become. You see, I believe, that is the final gift of the Christmas story for us: God in Jesus is with us even when life does not make sense, even when troubles or temptation seem unbearable, even when your family disappoints, even when you lose a family member, even when a friend betrays you, even when your heart is broken, even when you are diagnosed with cancer, even when you try your best and your best is not enough, even when your business fails, even when things just do not go as planned…
God is with you. He is faithful.
God in Jesus will give you hope even when you hopelessly lose your way. You can trust that in your Egypt Jesus will give you strength to endure. When it is time, Jesus will call you out of your Egypt to show you the best God has for you, because “the one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).
Perhaps this past year was your Egypt or perhaps you will sojourn in your own Egypt in the new year. Do not despair. Take heart. Like Mary and Joseph, chosen and faithful, may you find strength in the journey, deepen your faith in the sojourn – however long it might be, and rejoice when you are called out to fulfill the rest of your life story until you are called home. Be faithful, and when you cannot, He will be faithful even then.
What are your best laid plans for the new year? How do you remain faithful even when life does not go as planned?