“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea . . . “Matthew 2:1
I had a conversation recently with a friend who is moving away. She is greeting this transition with both anxiety and excitement. “It’s all going to be so strange in a new town, but who knows what God has in store there?” I remembered my own move just a year earlier and that same mix of anticipation and trepidation. Like my friend, I believed God was behind our relocation, that His will for me is here in this place. I believe God sets things in motion and orchestrates events so that His will is fulfilled. The Bible is filled with story after story of God’s hand in the events of human history, and in particular in individual lives. But sometimes the path He chooses is hard and difficult to understand in the moment.
Joseph had a destiny in Egypt that affected his family, the forthcoming nation of Israel and the entire world. But God took him through pits and prison on the way. David would be king of Israel, but by way of the sheep fields and running for his life through the wilderness. I love the accounts of Paul; God had a purpose for him, to “carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel,” (Acts 9:15). He declared, “you must testify about me in Rome, (Acts 23:11). And he did indeed make it to Rome to declare the name of Christ Jesus, but he arrived as a prisoner, through a storm and a shipwreck and a snake (Acts 27-28) .
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfilled a prophecy made hundreds of years before: “Out of you, Bethlehem Ephrathah . . . will come one for me who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). How did that happen when His mother was in Nazareth, some 100 miles away? “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone when to his own town to register,” (Luke 2:1, 3).
Beloved, a life surrendered into the hands of the Lord God Almighty may have twists and surprises, and yes even doubts and struggles, but you can be assured that He is faithful to fulfill His purpose. Don’t be afraid of these “strange things that are happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It’s just God at work fulfilling His purpose for you.