“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
The Hope of the world was born in a manger over two thousand years ago. What a heavy burden for such a small, fragile child. I often wonder when Jesus knew who He was. Could this newborn babe have known He was the Child of God? Did He come to earth with all knowledge? Did he have to learn to talk, walk, and discover His identity? I believe He had to learn some things because learning is part of the human experience. We know that by the age of twelve He knew His true Father. But did this newborn know who He was?
His parents knew. Though they couldn’t possibly have realized all that would have to happen to them and their son, they did know He was the Great I Am. Can you imagine being responsible for raising the Son of God? Holding His hand while He learned to walk (no pressure, just don’t let the God of the universe fall down and bump his head). Teaching the Creator of the world how to eat solid food, proper table manners, and carpentry so He could support Himself financially? And what about the day they lost him!! Wow, talk about panic! No big deal, they just misplaced the Son of God. (See Luke 2:41-52)
Being fully God and fully Man, I’m sure Jesus was born with greater knowledge and the ability to learn at a faster pace than the rest of humanity. But I like to think He engaged in the learning process to get the full human experience. At the very least, His body grew at a normal human rate, meaning His ability to walk and learn eye-hand coordination skills was like ours (theoretically).
Why is this important? Because it means God can fully empathize with the frustrations inherent to the human experience. We begin learning on day one and don’t stop until we leave this earth. Learning is a gift and a challenge. We are hard-wired to crave higher levels of knowledge. What we want to learn varies from person to person. Some desire educational knowledge, some technical expertise, others seek artistic development, and still others want greater insight into human behavior. We all want to learn something. Hope is the spark that drives the will to learn. It also includes learning how to follow and trust God in all circumstances.
When our human experience hits the roadblocks of life, we can lose that spark. Dampen hope and motivation to learn and grow disappears. Learning is stunted when we allow our disappointments and setbacks to give way to hopelessness. We feel stuck and trapped by our circumstances or even our human nature. Hope fades and with it the desire to learn and grow. Stay in the place of hopelessness long enough and we stop trying.
Jesus experienced humanity completely during His time on earth. We can look to His family to discover insights on how to plow through the hard spots of life. Mary and Joseph can help us learn about dealing with life’s unexpected detours.
Surrender to God
Mary and Joseph both surrendered to God’s plan when Mary became pregnant. Trust that His plan is good as you hope for a brighter tomorrow and wait for His promises to come to fruition.
Treasure special insights in your heart
Throughout the life of Jesus, Mary treasured things in her heart. From the appearance of the shepherds and wise men to the proclamation of Simeon and Anna at the temple. Don’t forget the things God whispers to your heart when the storm roars into your life.
Push through doubts
Mary and Joseph were scared and confused when they left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. It took them three days to find Him. Mary must have had all kinds of questions and doubts when Joseph died. And grief assailed her again upon the death of her son…the Son of God. But she kept showing up and trusting God.
Do what you can do
Imagine being the parents of Jesus. Think about how they must have worried and doubted themselves. I keep thinking of Joseph teaching Jesus carpentry. Did he feel inadequate teaching the Creator of all things how to measure, cut, and piece together pieces of wood and stone? Yet, he shared his knowledge with the God of all knowledge because that was his part of the story.
Trust God to work it out
They trusted God when they fled to Egypt, they trusted Him when they detoured to Nazareth. They trusted God to work out the ending of the story even when the story wasn’t going the way they had hoped. I bet when Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God that she didn’t expect to give birth in a barn. I assume Joseph didn’t think he’d end up fleeing the country to keep Jesus safe from Herod. But through it all, they trusted God to lead them to the next place and the next step.
If you feel that all is hopeless, that life won’t get better, that you’re stuck with no way out, allow me to offer a bit of encouragement and ignite a spark of hope. God sees you, He’s with you, and He already has a plan to get you from where you are now to where you need to be. It may not be where you expect, but this detour may be the route that takes you to a bright and blessed future.
Let hope bloom in your heart and be ready to take an unexpected adventure with your ever present Teacher, the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all you need to know. Don’t let hope die, keep the spark glowing, and celebrate the human experience. The journey will be worth it.
Father, thank you for being our eternal hope. Help us look to you when we feel discouraged or disappointed with life, circumstances, or ourselves. Continue teaching us to trust you at all times and to walk with You even when we don’t know where you are leading. Thank You for sending Jesus to make a way for us to be with You. Thank you, Jesus, for Your life, death, and resurrection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Spread the spark of hope everywhere you go,
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I want to follow Jesus! How do I get started?
“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:13-15
If you are ready to join the family of God, simply believe and ask. You can choose your own words or pray the prayer below. God hears your heart, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and let the Spirit lead you.
“Father, I want to be yours. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and thank you for the gift of salvation through Him. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and surrender my life to You. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Feel free to spend time just talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Let Him speak to you and listen as He leads you forward into new life. Welcome to the family.
Need to talk or have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me.