I don't know in what circumstances this article finds you today but I hope it finds you well.
Think of the word circumstance, like the word circumscribe (which means to draw a line around) the word circumstances is a composite word made of circum (from the Latin 'round,' basically the same word from which we get circle) and stance (Latin 'sto' to stand, meaning a position or attitude)
Well then this leaves us with the idea of what is around us, where we find ourselves standing.
In this time of year, exclusively about the birth of Jesus Christ, so many things attempt to obfuscate the real significance of the celebration. Oh, there is no doubt, the efforts, for many are well meaning, so I don't want to disparage their desire for framing things in their own happy way. However, the attempt to inject enthusiasm where none exists is because there is not a true understanding and so an inability to participate in the overwhelming blessing in Christs birth. This led me to think of the circumstances at the time of Jesus being born and what those around him were going through.
Think of it, we have a young woman, who has become pregnant through the Word of God being delivered to her. She responded, not in panic or distress but agreed with that Word which was spoken from God. Luke 1:35, 37 and 38 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God... For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
How much confusion would have ensued if she had struggled with the unexpected circumstances, but because it was God's Word she responded in trust?
What was imparted was an immaculate spiritual seed, to impregnate her immaculate (unbroken, undefiled, still pure) womb through the eclipsing of her life by the Spirit of God. This was an inversion of what a usual eclipse brings. The darkness of this material life was eclipsed by God, who in scripture is written of as being Light itself, meaning the Light of life, so spiritual light.
1 John 1:5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” KJV and John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” KJV
This young woman, Mary, was carrying a child out of wedlock, but on top of that, almost all of those around would not believe she came by this mysteriously and miraculously. She was engaged to be married (Considered at that time as married but in a pre-ceremony waiting period) to a young man named Joseph, who, naturally, struggled tremendously with the conception of the idea, until he too was visited by a messenger of God in a dream. Mathew 1:19-21, “Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus (the name means God saves) —because he will save his people from their sins."
To complicate things, at the time the new King Herod wanted to take a census of the people, basically a head count. So each person had to go to the place of their family birth along with spouses. There were no RV's or minivans to get them there, and being meagre in means they only had a donkey to carry their goods and a pregnant Mary to the town of Joseph's family, Bethlehem. It was close to the beginning of winter, so it was cold and wet. There were no ski outfits or insulated coats and gloves, certainly not like today. What kept them going and moderately warm was the purpose they were immersed in. They had resigned themselves to the unfolding of events in God's hand. Circumstances seemed to shout negatively to the contrary but, as they say, “Sunday was a commin!” So this is what they dwelt in, lived on along the way.
Far off in the distance, in the east, three wise men, of royal lineage, who followed the stars, and the signs they showed, found one very unusual star and began a trek, towards Bethlehem. When they arrived in town, the place was packed, so there were no rooms available anywhere. Eventually, Joseph found a keeper of an inn, who had compassion on them. This man had a special field, in which all the sacrifice lambs were born and raised in the region. It was a must, they come from this field. Just inside the edge of this field there was a hill with a cave in it. It had been cleaned out, supported by timbers and used as a stable for all the animals on this grazing ground. He gave them permission to harbour there, while they stayed in Bethlehem.
Wow, heavy circumstances or what! Yet, as things unfolded and they set up a feed trough, a manger, as a potential crib for the child to be lain in after birth, Jesus' time to be born arrived, and so did he. Unknown to them at the same time signs and wonders were pointing others to their child. Upon the hills surrounding the town an Angel appeared to some astonished shepherds, who were caring for their sheep. In Luke 2:10 -15 it says, ““And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.””
King Herod heard of the arrival of the three wise men and invited them to eat with him, in order to inquire about this child, who was purported to be a new King. Herod wanted to kill him to remove any competition to his rule, so he asked the wise men, if they found Him, to inform him of where he was born, pretending to want to show honour to him as well. However, the three wise guys picked up on it and planned not to reveal His whereabouts.
The star they followed led them to the stable where Jesus was waiting in the arms of Mary, with Joseph standing close by, surrounded by the shepherds, the animals lowing and gently bleating. They wrapped him in strips of clothe to bundle him up warm and laid Him in the manger so all could see. These kingly wise men came forward and laid at the feet of Christ's manger gifts of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh, all symbolic of purposes of Jesus life. Then they worshipped Him as the King of Kings and the saviour of the world.
Now I don't know about you, but if I had to handle the responsibility of being the one to birth, care for, and raise the Son of God, that's circumstances. If I had to endure the accusations of others about my moral rep, even for a short while from my spouse, then travel to another area with him, through winter cold, on the back of a donkey, while pregnant yet, those are some circumstances. If, when I arrive, I found there is no warm place to stay, except a stable outback in a field, in a cave filled with animals, this would be less than favourable circumstances, to say the least. If there were no place after giving birth, except a feed trough, to put my child for a crib and if I had no real clothing to keep the child warm, except ripped up strips of cloth, circumstances would not seem to be my friend. Then once the child was born a bunch of perfect strangers came to see the child, strangers, who were field dusty shepherds, with the bizarre mix of Royalty along side, I would not be able to get my security from circumstances. Fortunately, the players in this moment in history, didn't depend on circumstances, they relied on God's Word, as He communicated it to them, and in that word was the power from God to live differently then what circumstances attempted to dictate.
Mathew 2:11-12 “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”
Living by circumstances can keep a person felling entrapped and discouraged, but this example shows how, when we live by what God tells us, the most powerful, world changing things can start in the smallest ways. A child changes the world!
Merry Christmas and Happy Seasoning!