These are uncertain times.

As we move towards Christmas and Jesus’ birth, I can’t help but think how uncertain times must have been for Mary and Joseph.  To start with, the Jewish people were an occupied people.  Romans, foreigners who were not Jews, were in political control.  To complicate matters even further, Mary and Joseph were forced to travel through foreign territory, from Galilee to Bethlehem, from the territory of one Roman Governor to the territory of another Roman Governor, to pay taxes.  They had to make this trip, by foot and donkey, during the final month of her pregnancy.  They were not able to call ahead to make room reservations.  They didn’t have family there to stay with when they arrived.

And after Jesus was born, the family was going to have even more uncertainty.  They were going to have to take what they had with them on this trip to Bethlehem, and move, without prior warning, to Egypt.  They were going to have to make a new start, from nothing, in a foreign land where they didn’t even speak the language.  These were people who faced a lot of uncertainty in their lives.

On one level, they really had no choice but to move forward through uncertainty.  As the story comes to us, the trip to pay taxes was mandatory.  As the story comes to us, if they hadn’t fled to Egypt, Jesus would have been murdered.  But, on another level, they were able to move through their uncertain times because God was an anchor for their lives.  Mary had gambled her life on God’s faithfulness in accepting her pregnancy.  Joseph had gambled his good name in accepting a wife who was pregnant.  And together they trusted God through the many great uncertainties and upheavals of their life with Jesus.

I don’t think this made things easy.  But I think this trust in God may have made all this possible.  And this is a comfort to me.

I know my wife and I face some uncertainties in the year ahead.  I know, in fact, that this has always been true.  But we are much more aware of these uncertainties today than we have been in most past years.  And I suspect that’s true for most of us.  Expectations that seemed solid in the past don’t seem so certain today.

But there is one thing which has not changed:  God’s faithfulness.  And today I’m more aware of my need for God’s presence in my life than I have been in the past.  This is a good thing.

It’s not like I haven’t always known that, when you get down to it, my life depends on God.  But when you are confident you can provide for your needs, and your family’s needs, today and in the future, there is a great temptation to see God as something extra in your life.  And when you are aware of the real uncertainties of your life, not only in the future, but even today, then you know that God is really the bedrock of your life.

That’s where I am, anyway, today.