I love Christmas time – but in all honesty, I have some serious questions about the whole narrative. Seeing the manger scene brings me hope, joy, happy memories, and peace. However, when I ponder deeply on the people and events surrounding the manger scene – I have some serious whys??? Please allow me to ramble for a few paragraphs – maybe you have struggled with some of these?
1) Why were Mary and the baby Jesus treated so poorly?
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. . . Joseph traveled to Bethlehem from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was now obviously pregnant.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them. (Luke 2: 1 – 7)
Here we go, unplugged – Why didn’t God move Augustus to give the census later so they could stay in their home for the baby’s birth? Why did Mary have to uncomfortably ride an animal towards the end of her pregnancy over 70 miles in distance? C’mon, not one room for The Son of God? A manger (a feeding trough)? The baby was born in the unsanitary conditions of a stable or cave-like structure with the stench of animals, straw, and dung? I just don’t understand.
2) Why were the shepherds the only ones allowed to see the host of angels?
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them . . . They were terrified, but the angel reassured them . . . I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today . . . Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven – praising God . . . (Luke 2: 8-20 for the full story)
Why didn’t the angelic army appear to Mary and Joseph to give them encouragement? Better yet, why not appear before King Herod and his henchmen to keep them away from the baby Jesus? Why the shepherds – why not another group that was slightly higher on the social ladder that could have more influence in spreading the word about the newborn Savior? Why did they have to go look in the dark to find the baby? I still don’t understand.
3) Later on in the story, why didn’t God intervene when King Herod was trying to kill Jesus?
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother, the angel said, “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. (Matthew 2:13)
Again, the angels appear to shepherds – but won’t use their power to protect Mary, Joseph, and Jesus? Why not at least let them get a good night’s sleep? Why Egypt? A place with no family ties, hot, sandy, pagan culture, no job. The distance was about 491 miles – are you kidding me, why not somewhere closer? Why didn’t God use his power to simply give Herod a heart attack? I really don’t understand.
Moving past the Christmas story, the “whys” keep coming through the journey of life:
Why can’t I have children?
Why is my child rebelling?
Why can’t I get out of debt and why do things keep breaking down?
Why can’t I find the right person?
Why did I get cancer (or insert other diseases) in the prime of my life?
Why can’t I get an entry-level job or a promotion?
Why did the person I trusted cheat on me?
Why did those innocent people die?
And on and on the “whys?” go . . .
Guess what? It is okay for us to ask God “why?” Those are valid questions. Every one of us takes on difficult events, circumstances, and challenges. All throughout the Bible, God was questioned – by Moses, Gideon, Job, David, Mary, Joseph, and yes . . . even Jesus:
“My God, my God – why have you abandoned me???” (Matthew 27:46)
The dilemma is what do we do after the questioning? If we try to use logic, analysis, and reasoning to figure things out – we might get a little bit of insight. I have read several pieces of research that explain a lot of my Christmas story questions. That helps my brain, but logic doesn’t’ reach my heart. There is still an emptiness inside when we experience loss, unexpected trauma, or hurt.
The key is going back to God after our questions. Trusting in Him even though we don’t see answers. Relying on who He is instead of what we’re experiencing. Drawing a line in the sand with our prayers until we see Him move in His way. And he doesn’t need my approval or understanding in His master plan for the universe. Coming to the realization that God’s ways are unpredictable, uncontrollable, mind-boggling, loving, supernatural, wild, mysterious, unexplainable, redemptive, confusing, slow-moving, and disruptive. All which describe the Christmas story 🙂