Luke 2:1+4-5: “At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.”

Sometimes when life happens, it happens fast! Put yourself in Joseph’s and Mary’s shoes for a minute:

After returning from Jerusalem and three months into her pregnancy, Mary had to face her family and husband-to-be Joseph.  Joseph believed the angel of the Lord that Mary’s child was indeed the Son of God. So instead of breaking the engagement he married her.

A few months later, Augustus’ decree was requesting all citizens of Israel to register in their ancestral towns.  This was Mary’s second trip to Judea during her pregnancy, only now she was in her third trimester!  The direct distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles. Mary and Joseph probably walked more than 90 miles before they reached their resting place in the stable.

Why is it that everything seems to happen at the same time?  Why couldn’t the decree wait and Mary could have delivered her baby in the comfort of her own home? Embracing life sure feels like embracing a Cactus sometimes!

In the end though, it all falls into place. The child had to be born in Bethlehem, Judea, in King David’s hometown, to demonstrate that Jesus is his son, part of King David’s family and thereby fulfilling ancient prophecy. While Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and truthfully is the Son of God, by the same token, through Mary’s lineage, He is also the Son of David.

Maybe we are dealing with thorns of our own when life circumstances become exceedingly troublesome.  Paul mentioned a personal “thorn” in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:7):

“I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”

Paul concludes (2 Corinthians 12:10):

“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

So whichever thorn is bothering you today, you are in great company!  There are hidden blessings in unfavorable circumstances when we embrace Christ.  With our personal limitations we run into the Eternal One who is limitless – and He has the power and wherewithal to truly set us free: a life-changing experience if there ever was one!

 “Dear Heavenly Father, You shed light in the dark, You have given beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. I love You.”

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