Every year at Christmas, one of the “kids” (now ages 15-25) in the family reads the “Christmas Story” from Luke 2:1-20. We sit there, surrounded by family members that love us, and imagine what it must have been like to be there at that moment. Each time I hear that story read aloud, the thing that strikes me the most is Luke 2:7b where it says, “because there was no guest room available for them.” There was no guest room? Don’t they know who it is that’s about to be born? Surely, if they did, they would move around guests so the King of Kings would have a decent place to lay His head, right? But that’s not what happened.
So my next question is– why? God wrote this story ahead of time. He could have changed the sequence of events so that His Son was given the birthplace He deserved. But, again, that’s not what happened.
Regardless of whether your theology leads you to believe He was born in a stable, or something closer to a living room in a family member’s home, one thing we can all agree on is that there wasn’t any room for Mary and Joseph in a traditional room where they would have been comfortable giving birth to a baby.
Was that stressful on the young couple? How did they feel, knowing this is how their son would be born? How did Mary react? How did Joseph comfort her? Or was Mary the one comforting Joseph? I don’t know the answer to these questions… but I can apply the same questions to my life, and so can you. When things go wrong, when life gets messy, what is our reaction? How do we experience God when everything seems to be going wrong?
I’ve always thought that one of the “coolest” parts about being in pain is how close God feels in those moments. Despite how awful life seems, God’s presence is more real than ever before. One of the messiest parts of my life happened a couple of years ago. It was about a four or five month period of time where I was having pretty bad panic attacks every. Single. Day. I cried constantly and couldn’t seem to snap out of it. The only thing that kept me calm and at peace was reading my Bible, journaling, or praying. Consequently, I found myself doing that as much as I possibly good. My panic attacks didn’t go away, but the anxiety had no power while I was talking to Jesus. I’d never talked to God so much in my life, and as terrible as those months were, I cherish those moments and how close He felt when I didn’t know if I could go on another day.
I don’t know what you’re going through or how many filled inns you had to knock on before settling for less-than-ideal, but God has a plan and He isn’t going to leave you in your time of need… even if it seems like He’s giving you a manger rather than a bed.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. – Psalm 34:18