Finding Grace While Feeling Pain

I just read a great Advent post reminding us to seek freedom for today’s residents of Bethlehem: Palestinians.

The devotional on Luke 2:1-4 reminded me of the paradox of human sin and God’s grace. Joseph and Mary were forced to leave their home in Nazareth and travel (walk) for three days while Mary was “great with child.” They left Nazareth in submission to an edict from the oppressing power (Rome), who was worried that they weren’t getting enough taxes out from their conquered countries.

As one concerned for human rights, freedom, and dignity, I cringe at imperialism, and feel compassion for those forced to change lives due to greedy economic power houses. Yet . . . the Roman edict moved Joseph and Mary to the perfect, predicted place for Jesus’ arrival.

So God can use even the acts of corrupt foreign empires to serve divine purposes. I see this in my own life, when I stop to reflect (mostly, I just gripe about my life!). I’m unemployed and one reason is the greed of powerful economic forces outside my sphere of influence. The unemployment hurts — but it is also serving God’s purposes in my life.

I wanted to simplify my life: its much simpler. I wanted to define my life apart from possessions; I’m apart from my possessions. I wanted to trust that God was meeting my needs, not an employer; God is meeting my needs.

We are called to work for justice; we are also called to see God’s grace in life-as-it-is.

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