"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." --1 John 5:11-12
Charles Dickens, begins his epic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, with, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For many, this phrase speaks volumes, especially at Christmas.
It is the best of times because our God gives to us His undying promise of a supreme covenant of love when He sent His only begotten Son to us, a Messiah who is both divine and human. This commitment of protection and redemption is gift-wrapped and set under a heavenly tree so that we might have the present of eternal life. Our faith, our focus of knowing such devotion from God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can keep us going if we let it. But life's road filled with bumps, bruises, and potholes. So it can indeed be the best of times and the worst of times, in a world of mortality, fallenness, tragedy, and terror.
Yet in the midst of this darkness, we have a hopeful glimpse of light, peace. God comes looking for a place to stay in us.
Consider Mary and Joseph; it certainly looked like the worst of times for them--a dangerous journey back to Joseph's hometown. It was a necessary trip because the Romans needed a census, so they could collect all the tax money possible. We can imagine Mary's questions, “How do we get there before our child comes. Where are we going to stay? What about thieves that might rob from us of what little we have?” But we also know of her faith, to keep going no matter what.
You know the story, when they finally arrived in Bethlehem, there was no Holiday Inn Express, no Marriott, just an animal stall with a manger. They were looking for hospitality and begrudgingly the world gave them the least possible.
Perhaps, pain and sorrow burden you this Christmas season. Maybe you are are just coming up empty. Perhaps you need a place to find rest and fulfillment. But unlike what Mary and Joseph got--a dirty cattle stall, God will always find us, greet us with an open heart, and lead us to a place of honor beside Him. No matter where you may be, you are never alone because of God's gift of unconditional love. God can surely take the worst of times and make them the best, because He wants to dwell in us.