Jesus, not another like him, number five.
Do you want to know what God thinks?
Do you want to know where God
is in the midst of chaos--yours or the world’s?
Jesus said If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.1
Further, Jesus said, My Father is always working, and so am I.2
And so we cast our eyes on Jesus, as knowing more about Him reveals the heart and the workings of the Father. Consider with me the circumstances and people surrounding Jesus’ birth all those years ago. Like, who knew what was taking place?
There was one who had studied the prophecies and knew after 400 years of silence, God was ready to reenter history. His name was Simeon. There was another who had also been prepared to see the Messiah - not just through the prophecies but through a preparation of her own spirit. Her name was Anna. Two faithful souls who quietly trusted God that He would do what He said He would do - send a Messiah to Israel, and each would see him who God would send. Why would these two unremarkable old people be the ones to know that the King had entered the Temple at last?3 God does not do things the way we would.
And if you and I were going to send a Messiah into a brash, hedonistic, stratified culture, I wonder how we would do it. Would we choose an unmarried, uneducated, teen-aged girl from a tiny, no-count town to give birth to Him? Uh uh. Would we choose an ancestral line that included shameful people, and then be certain to list those folks by name for all to see?4 No way.
Would we announce his birth first to those thought of as dirty outcast shepherds? I mean, why waste a beautiful announcement by a skyful of angels on shepherds anyway?5
Why Mary? Why Joseph? Why Nazareth? Why shepherds? God answers, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”6
Sometimes God’s ways are confounding. But one thing we see in all of this--God favors the humble. Yes, he seems to put a premium on humility, especially when it is coupled with trust in him. And those who are humble seem to be most able to hear from God.
Take young Mary’s response when the angel told her she was to bear a son, 'May it be to me as you have said.’7 Yes, Lord, I will wait for you to work all of this out - what will Joseph think? What will my mother and father say and O, how will they respond to the shame that will be ours in our village? I will trust You, Lord. And then she waited for the Lord to act.
Are you in a time of waiting, wondering if God has heard your prayers? I love the encouragement from David in Psalm 37: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… ‘But it seems like God hears everyone else’s prayers but mine!’ Yes, I have felt that way at times, and I have talked to others who feel that way right now… but this one thing I know. God is true to himself, he cannot lie - so he is always at work, even when we do not see it or know how he is working. God is good - in spite of what others are doing, even when times are difficult, even when our hearts seem to be breaking open. And God is faithful. He will not leave us alone.
And finally, even if we lose faith in Him, he is still faithful. Paul said it simply this way:
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.8
O God, you are faithful and good, you know all things. God, our hearts are heavy for the people of the Ukraine… have mercy, dear God. End the evil perpetrated by a mad man, we pray Thee! We have faith in you, Lord, but we pray for greater faith to trust you in the waiting, to trust you in heartache and grief, to trust you when the world seems ever so uncertain. Help us, O Lord, to rest in you.
In Jesus’ mighty name,
A prayer in song: God, Turn it Around:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gv8VDqc-os
1 - John 14.7
2 - John 5.17
3 - Luke 2.22-38
4 - Matthew chapter 1
5 - Luke 2 announcement to the shepherds
6 - Isaiah 55.8-9
7 - Luke 1.26-38
8 - 2 Timothy 2.13