Expectations, Life, and Christmas

Thinking this morning about part of the message I preached this past Sunday, Christmas Eve 2017.

While working through the Christmas story found in Luke 2 it occurred to me that things didn’t work out the way Mary and Joseph probably thought they would. They probably thought their baby would be born at home, in the safety and security of their bedroom, with a familiar midwife helping with the delivery. It would be what we might consider the best of circumstances, but for them it was normal. There would be water nearby. It would be clean. Family would come to help. Their support system would kick in and life would be pretty normal, with the exception of having to raise the Son of God.

But a census command by Caesar Augustus changed everything. Now they had to travel when they didn’t want to travel. It was late in the pregnancy and travel would not be recommended, especially by donkey. They had to stay where they didn’t want to stay. Even after traveling, perhaps things wouldn’t be so bad if they could find a nice place to stay. But with so many others also going to Bethlehem there was no place for them to stay. I have no doubt Joseph worked hard to find some place, any place, indoors at least.

There would be no indoor birthing room. A dark, damp stable became their hospital room. A pile of hay the birthing bed. A feeding trough became a baby bed. It was outdoor, unsanitary, unhealthy, and they were feeling unwelcome.

Life often does not live up to our expectations.

Each of us can point to things in our lives that haven’t gone as we expected. There are hopes that have been dashed and dreams that have been set aside or cancelled. Maybe even your family Christmas gathering that you hoped would bring family unity turned out to be awkward and difficult. Our kids don’t do what we hoped. Our parents don’t do as we wished. Our friends fall away. We let ourselves down. Circumstances sometimes seem to be conspiring against us with concerted anger. Nothing seems as easy as it ought to be. Life isn’t turning out the way we thought it would.

What do you do? How do you respond? Quit? Take out your frustration on others? Get angry? Get even?

Consider this young couple in Bethlehem with no family around at the birth of their first born, sitting alone in a cave (stable) with their young child laying in the feeding trough. How had they envisioned the birth of the one they knew to be the Son of God? What did they think would happen?

Even when we may not understand how or why, we must remember this: Just because it didn’t work out the way you thought doesn’t mean that God is not at work.

It may not be the way you would’ve done it, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. His ways are not our ways. Trust Him. Know that He works in all things (Romans 8:28) to accomplish His purposes in His way.

When life seems to not be meeting your expectations, take a moment to look around and try to figure out what God might be up to. Don’t quit and don’t get angry. Realize that God has a plan for your life and that He is working to accomplish His will in you and through you. Trust Him and trust His plan.

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