Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and cheer with everybody bubbling over with joy. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it just plain hurts. It’s the time of year when there is so much stress and tension. Maybe you’re alone this year, and there is a lot of grief and pain involved. No matter what we’re going through, God has a story of redemption for our lives.

Let’s start with the Christmas Story from Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Let’s sympathize with Joseph for a few minutes here. He was engaged to be married to Mary, whom he thought was a virgin. Instead, he finds out she is pregnant and he knows the baby is not his.

What would you have done? What do you do when your spouse lets you down?

I think our natural inclination and the first response is like his: walk away. He made that decision (resolved) but then thought it over. That’s where God steps in and says “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife.”

The whole story of redemption begins with redemption in the story of Joseph and Mary’s marriage.

I don’t know what you’ve gone through this year in your marriage. Maybe your marriage is awesome and part of why it’s awesome is because you do things to enrich it like listening to marriage podcasts. On the other hand, maybe 2014 will be a year that you remember where some really hard things happened in your marriage.

We just finished a four-part series on fighting – fighting sucks. It’s painful. Sometimes it’s prompted by disappointment, like the disappointment Joseph felt when he initially found out Mary was pregnant. Some of those disappointments can be severe.

I want to encourage all of us – because we all let our spouse down, and get let down by our spouses – to look for the story of redemption that God is writing into our lives. God is calling us to be leading characters in that story. It’s his story, but it’s our role to join in and engage rather than to walk away, push back or abandon the story entirely.

There are some that are reading this, and this Christmas is especially painful for you because you are ready to engage in that story of redemption but your spouse isn’t. In fact, you may be facing your very first Christmas alone.

Our hearts go out to you. That’s hard. It’s sad, and we know it must be a very lonely experience.

But that’s where I want you to be encouraged! Step back from the story of redemption you wish was being written into the larger story of redemption that is always being written in and through the power of Jesus Christ.

Our little kingdoms can be in chaos. But God’s big kingdom is always ruled by a benevolent, loving God who was willing to go through his own loss, grief, and sorrow in the giving of His Son to this world so that we could take him, crucify him, and put him away. Right, when that story seemed like it was no longer being written, the angels that appear here to Joseph appear again to another two Mary’s in Matthew 28 – it’s an angel of resurrection.

Listen, I don’t know how your story is going to be written, or how my story is going to be written. I would like to be able to promise you hope for your marriage and to promise you that a day of redemption for your marriage is coming. But I can’t honestly do that. We don’t know how our personal stories end, yet.

However, I can tell you how God’s story of redemption ends. It’s a perfect ending. I can promise you that it ends well! God’s plan for your life as a child of God ends with perfect, complete redemption in an unbreakable, secure, eternal relationship with a God of love, peace, and joy.

So, wherever you’re at in your journey, and whatever chapter was written in the story of your life this year, we want to compel you to stop and consider the Savior. When we have Him, we can truly have a Merry Christmas!

God bless you all, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Image courtesy of gwynydd michael under the Creative Commons license.