Sometimes when things aren’t going the way I think they should I find myself asking God what He is doing. We have seen many a missionary come to PNG with hopes to plant a church, only to have sickness knock them out and send them home.
One of the missionaries on the team that most recently presented the gospel in Yifki had to leave as soon as they finished due to medical. When I see these things, on the outside, it appears at times that God does not care about the souls of these people. But i know that’s not true. Of course God cares for their soul. That’s why He sent Jesus. That’s why He has sent us to PNG. And yet, these difficult things happen. So, what is God’s plan? What is he doing? Maybe you have asked similar questions a times.
The Passage: Matt 2:13-23; Luke 2:39-40
Mary and Joseph have just experienced what must have been an incredible boost of encouragement. They heard and saw the proclamations of the faith of Simeon and Anna at Jesus dedication. We don’t know exactly when, but sometime after that, they witnessed the magnificent visit of the magi, and saw their extravagant gifts. It must have all been just Incredible to witness.
But, as the wise men leave, they are warned by the angel not to go back to Herod (Matt 2:12). I’m not sure how long it took Herod to figure out the wisemen left without coming back. But, when he does, he mounts a full scale search! He sends his soldiers out with instruction to find every male child 2 and under to be killed (Matt 2:16).
As Matthew recounts this story, he is reminded of another situation that was told of by the prophet Jeremiah in Jer 31:15. The literal meaning of those words referred to the time of exile where Jewish mothers, Rachel being the symbol of Jewish motherhood, watch their sons being marched off to captivity, never to be seen again. As Matthew remembers Jeremiah’s words, he finds application in the current situation. The mothers of these sons were not just seeing their sons marched off to captivity alive, these mothers lost their sons in death. Matthew recalls their weeping and knows they will not be comforted because their sons are no longer.
Just a few months earlier God had so orchestrated events to use Herod’s greed and selfish ambition to bring about the Messiah being born where God said He would. But now, the same ungodly, heathen king is being used as an instrument of Satan to try and destroy the very seed God had provided.
This was a spiritual battle of the greatest proportion! What better way to stamp out the redeemer coming, than to try and kill him at his most vulnerable time, a helpless baby/toddler?
While Herod, being the hand servant of Satan, is hell bound to kill Jesus, God intervenes by directing Joseph to flea to Egypt. Mary and Joseph are sent on yet another long journey. Their journey to Egypt would have taken them from Bethlehem down to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, through Gaza across the Sinai Desert and into Egypt to the Pyramids along the Nile. It was likely more than 350 miles (563 km), and they were on foot, with a toddler!
(What was God doing? Why is this written?)
It’s times like this that it makes you wonder if God missed something. If that star had not disappeared, the wisemen would have never gone to Herod. If the wisemen didn’t go to Herod, he would never have felt threatened. He would not have decreed all the children 2 and under to be killed. And Mary and Joseph would not have had to flee!
Why does God allow things like this in our lives? Was God out to lunch when this stuff happened? This was Jesus we are talking about. This was His messiah…. Yet he still allowed all these things to happen. Not only that, but when you factor the prophecies into the mix… it looks like he planned it… or at least, it was part of his plan! And that plan was made 100s of years before any of this stuff took place. If God took that much care to plan out the events of Mary and Joseph’s life, and Jesus’ early years… the good and the bad… do you think maybe He does the same thing for us?
Mike Mason, in his book, “The Gospel According to Job,” made these comments: For there are some traits of the soul, some spiritual qualities, that can only be acquired and perfected in solitude… in the grueling solitary confinement of the real loneliness and desertion we feel when God is silent. I wonder what traits… what qualities does He want to develop in me through the things I suffer? What about you? Heb 5:8 tells us that even Christ learned obedience through the things he suffered!
(What can we learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
What qualities does He want to develop in me through the things I suffer? Maybe the first question I should ask is, how am I suffering? What hardship has God put in my life, and how does God want me to grow because of it?
Often I have felt inadequate for this job. How can I train people to plant churches, when I have never actually done it myself? What do I have to offer these guys? I think I have tried to find comfort in my coaching skills, or in my heart for caring for them, or in my abilities to facilitate adult learning, etc. But, maybe God wants me to learn that it’s not what I can do for Him, but what He wants to do through me.
Ian Thomas said, “Countless numbers of professing Christians try to be Christians without Christ. They are willing to do anything for Jesus’s sake, but they fail to understand that His presence is absolutely imperative to do it, that without Him we are nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing!”
He also said, “Every step you take, every attitude you adopt, every decision you make, everything you do and all you hope to be, is either in dependence upon the God who created you as His own dwelling place, or else the byproduct of the demon spirit of this world, “who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), and who perpetuates his lies through a mindset of self-reliance in fallen humanity.
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
- I need to not be self reliant – which is Satan’s lie
- without Him I am nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing
- I can’t be a Christian without Christ! It’s Christ in me, God Himself in my humanity, that is the origin of His activity!
- Stop worrying about what I have or don’t have to offer, and simply be God’s instrument.