When Things Aren’t Going Well: A Christmas Devotional
Christmas is often a time when the festivity of the season stands in stark contrast to the way we may be feeling. Imagine how Joseph felt! A pregnant fiancée and a long road trip, only to find no place to stay. But God is faithful—to Joseph and to us.
By Brett Clemmer
President & CEO
Our chaplain, Ronn Read, likes to ask guys two questions when he sees them: “How ya doin’?” And after listening to the rote answers that guys give, he asks, “Okay. How ya really doin’?”
A lot of us are really not doing great. We survived COVID and things were looking up. And then the economy tanked. But that’s not all.
There’s a cultural malaise going on right now. Politics, public opinion, world affairs… they are all full of rancor and instability. The definition of morality seems to shift daily. And it’s leaving many of us feeling like the ground we are standing on is unstable.
I imagine Joseph felt much the same way 2,000 years ago. Things started out great! He had a wife-to-be, a solid profession, and was surrounded by family.Many of us feel like the ground we are standing on is unstable.Click To Tweet
And then the bottom drops out. Mary announces she’s pregnant—and he knows it’s not his. Wanting to spare her honor and perhaps even her life, he “resolved to divorce her quietly” (see Matthew 1:19). He could find another wife.
But an angel, of all things, upends his plans and tells him Mary is pregnant with the son of God Himself, and he is given the awesome responsibility of raising him. He doesn’t even get to pick his son’s name. The angel told him he had to name him Jesus.
And then, he has to take his pregnant young fiancée south from Galilee all the way to Bethlehem just to register for a census.
And then, there’s no room for them to stay in. Not in the customary spare room of a relative. Not in the inn. So they stayed with the animals—warm at least, but neither comfortable nor clean.
And then she goes into labor. His son, as promised, is born. His first crib is a feeding trough. His first outfit strips of cloth.
And if the story stopped there, it would just be a pathetic story of a poor carpenter far from home, with his betrothed and her son stuck in a stable without anyone seeming to care.
Hey Joseph, how ya really doing?
Not the End of the Story
But the story doesn’t stop there. Angels announce his new son’s arrival to shepherds. Wise men show up having been following a star for months from far away. And in the days ahead, angels would guide Joseph and Mary where to go to stay safe. His son “grew and become strong, filled with wisdom” (see Luke 2:40).
One time, Joseph and Mary accidentally left him behind on a trip back home from Jerusalem. And when they went back and got him, he was debating with the theology professors of his day. Amazing! The son of a carpenter!
We all know what happened over the next 20 years. Jesus would reveal Himself to be the Son of God, prophesied about in the Old Testament. He would build a group of disciples who would build His church in the years to come. He would die, yes; but then He would rise again, defeating death. The disciples would watch Him rise into heaven, knowing that some day He would come back.
So, how ya doin’? If you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a little depressed. Times are difficult. We all thought things were going to get better, but we just keep experiencing trial after trial. But the story, brothers, is not over.
You may not be able to see very far down the road, but you don’t need to. We can see into Scripture, and see that God is good and will not forsake us.
How ya really doin’?Your story is not over. God has great plans for you.Click To Tweet
Your story is not over. God has great plans for you (see Proverbs 16:9). Persevere. Trust. And look forward to that day when you get to see Jesus—and Joseph!—face to face.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – Jesus (John 14:1-3).
THE BIG IDEA: You may not be able to see very far down the road, but you don’t need to. We can see into Scripture, and see that God is good and will not forsake us.