This is a familiar story. I do not think many could very easily find someone who has not heard it. But give this 2 minutes give or take. Shake off that familiarity which sometimes closes our minds.
Imagine it with me. The Israelites, zealots, pharisees, and sadducees alike, have been waiting through 400 years of silence for the manifestation of a holy victor! A Savior! They prayed for it and, though failing as humans do, they kept on hoping. They hoped t hrough the rise of the Roman Empire under a seemingly incommunicative God. Surely this great beast whose laws they obeyed and taxes they paid would be the one whom the Messiah would vanquish. A monster such as that requires some sort of mythic hero; they needed a leader to show up on the horizon with shield and sword. Then, easy as pie, the big, bad empire would be gone and God would speak to them again.
But, no. That "great company of heavenly hosts" in Luke 2 arrived with "good news of great joy" in which was not the war cry of a great champion, but instead . . . a birth announcement? Now that cannot be right. That is not what the Israelites asked for. That is not what they prayed for.
Of course we, having hindsight, know that the baby of whom those angels spoke would, in fact, become that great conquerer. But I would have to imagine that if I was a shepherd out in that field, cold or warm, asleep or awake, it is possible that the whole "baby" part of the scenario might have seemed a bit unbelievable for me. A feeding trough is not a throne. A baby does not fit the bill.
But these shepherds heard, went, and worshipped. Worshipped.
Does anyone reading this have a request they have made to God where he answered, maybe even positively, but the solution just was not what you expected? I do. A lot of us are in a season of waiting. We are in seasons of frustration, ache, and longing. Maybe some of us are even in a season of hurt where we just cannot imagine this debilitation being an answered prayer. But we are given our strength when, in that hurt and anger and longing, we kneel and say "thank you". For what? Maybe an opportunity. Maybe contrast for the everyday. Maybe you or I have strayed too far, ignored Him too long, and this conformation to truth is uncomfortable for now.
All I know is that in Luke 2 we've been given a good model of what our attitude should look like. If you were expecting patience, thank Him still in the trials. If you were expecting peace, thank Him still for the chaos. If you were expecting a warlord, kneel still before the child in the manger.
I invite anyone who might like a bit of extra prayer to let me know, either through this site or privately.
This is not my typical blog post. It is neither a story nor a complaint, nor even a lecture. But in this season of waiting and celebrating, this is as real as any story. This is stronger than any complaint.