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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”—Luke 2:4-5 (NKJV)
Have you ever had to take a trip that you were not looking forward to? Imagine purposely leaving your hometown, not really expecting to return anytime soon, and yet an invitation lands in your inbox beckoning you to come back. This invite could be the catalyst to that “awkward” holiday family affair you’d been purposing to avoid. You know, it’s the trip that you’ll always remember but wish to forget. There are countless movies that center around this theme. It’s the dysfunctional family scene that breaks out into an array of embarrassing moments during the family holiday reunion.
Considering the above narrative, I can’t begin to imagine how Joseph must have felt when he was told he must return to his hometown of Bethlehem for the census. Mind you, Joseph had a fiancé, Mary, who was pregnant. Even though he was obeying God, Joseph would have to endure the scorn of his hometown family and friends who undoubtedly would want to know the details on Joseph’s pregnant fiancé. It was a recipe for small-town gossip, to say the least.
Yet even in this, God’s sovereign plan would play out as Joseph would indeed return home. An unexpected trip nonetheless, but one that would remain in the history books forever. This would be the trip that would mark the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Now, in light of Joseph’s story, consider what unexpected narrative God might be orchestrating in your own life. Could God be placing you in an unexpected or uncomfortable set of circumstances only to birth through you something extraordinary? Could God be using unforeseen situations in your life to facilitate His sovereign purpose?
Though we don’t hear much more about Joseph in the Bible, one thing we know for certain is that Joseph was obedient to God . . . even in the midst of an unplanned, bewildering situation. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) gives us clear instruction when navigating uncertain or surprising times: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
DIG: Read Psalm 32:8 and Romans 8:28 for more biblical insight and encouragement on this subject matter.
DISCOVER: Take a conscious inventory of the season you are in. Ask God if He is using unexpected occurrences to facilitate His purpose for you.
DISPLAY: Once you reconcile any season of uncertainty with God’s sovereign plan, walk in obedience to God as a testimony to others who may be experiencing doubt or discouragement.