Smooth sailing? That’s not how it worked out for Rebekah, and it’s not likely to work out that way for you and me. She faced trouble, trial and anxiety, finding herself engulfed by overwhelming circumstances though in the center of God’s will and work. What should she do? Complain? Take things into her own hands? Fortunately, she followed the example of her husband, but what about the rest of the family, especially Jacob? He was cool and calculating, crafty and subtle. He seems to be an unworthy and contemptible choice as an instrument of God. And yet . . .
Which is the more important question – Did I lose my job today, or how is it going with the gospel? Is a member of my family in the hospital, or how is it going with the gospel? Is my teenager causing trouble at home, or how is it going with the gospel? Did I make the team, or how is it going with the gospel? Paul found joy in the midst of his difficulty because he had no agenda other than the exaltation of Jesus Christ in and through his life whether by life or by death. This is radical stuff. Proceed with caution.
The celebration of the first noel and the anticipation of the last noel are closely connected. Both events teach the same truth — and what is that truth? God has his hand on human history and your place in it. Both the first and last noels teach us that God has not abandoned us, that God is not ignoring us, that God has a plan and a purpose and that He’s inviting us to get plugged into that plan and purpose. You may not know what tomorrow will bring, but you don’t have to be afraid. You may have no idea how things are going to turn out, but you don’t have to be afraid. You may be headed into unknown territory but you don’t have to be afraid.