Have you ever had a time in your life (or maybe many times) when it seemed like God was letting a disaster happen to you? Many years ago, there was a faithful, godly newlywed couple for whom everything seemed to be going wrong, in spite of their faithfulness to God. They lived in poverty, in a rough, blue collar town, and were despised by the elite people in their society. Then, when the wife was expecting to give birth within a few days or weeks, the couple received an order from the government to immediately make a difficult journey to a faraway town in order to pay a tax.
When the couple arrived at their destination, the wife began to have birth pangs, but no innkeeper would offer them a private room where she could give birth, nor would any of the guests or residents give up their own accommodations for her. The couple ended up heading to the edge of the city, where they made an arrangement with some farmer. The woman gave birth in a barn or cave, and laid her baby down to sleep in a feeding trough, next to the animals. But that was just the beginning of this baby boy’s rough start to life: soon after his birth, the family would be forced to flee for their lives to another country when a government official gave an order to kill their baby out of pure spite; later, after six more children had been added to the family, the husband would die unexpectedly, leaving the firstborn son responsible to provide for the needs of the large family. This son, in spite of being faithful to God, would die in his mid-thirties after a life of suffering and rejection.
Where was God while all of this was happening? Didn’t He care about this faithful couple and their faithful boy? Why was there never any financial relief for them, or relief from the pressure of their enemies in government and society? Why didn’t God give them a comfortable life in the end as a reward for their faithfulness?
Where was God? As we read the Christmas story in Luke 2, we find that God was there all along. In fact, He was physically present. This was the way that God chose to send His own beloved Son into the world, and this was the difficult life that God chose for His Son to live. What a perspective adjuster! When times are tough and it seems like everything is going wrong, we ought to remember Jesus, and to reflect on the truth that sometimes tough times come as a result of God’s love for us. What we think is best for us may be completely the opposite of what God knows is best for us.