“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
Expectations can get us into trouble. Christmas comes with all kinds of expectations. From the expectations of family traditions to the expectation of receiving that gift you’ve been asking for, we come to Christmas with anticipation, but there are times when our expectations lead to disappointment.
Israel—God’s chosen people—had some expectations about the Messiah whom God had promised through the prophets that he would send. Israel expected a political leader, a king who would conquer the surrounding nations and establish his kingdom by power and force. After all, God had promised through the prophet Isaiah, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore...” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Israel’s expectation was that the coming Messiah would come to overthrow the Roman government and establish the reign of God on earth.
Needless to say that Jesus being born in an animal stable to the family of a simple carpenter was not what many of the people of Israel expected. In fact, as Jesus began his ministry on earth by proclaiming the kingdom of God, you can imagine the disappointment that much of Israel felt when this man who claimed to be the promised Messiah looked less like a conquering king and more like a homeless preacher. So as we read the gospel accounts, we find that Jesus was rejected by many of his own people because he was not what they expected.
God chose to do things that way. He chose to use the weak and foolish things of this world to shame the strong and to humble the wise. God didn’t come as a conquering king but as a suffering servant. God chose the humiliation of the cross because he wanted to use what the world deems as foolish—that God would suffer and die—so that the salvation that comes through Jesus would be all about him and not about us. God chose to come not as we would have expected because he wanted to teach us that he is bigger, stronger, and smarter than we could ever imagine or expect.
So as the anticipation continues to build for Christmas, with all the expectations and disappointments that come along with it, I pray that you be reminded that God’s plan is bigger, stronger, and smarter than the expectations we have of him. Perhaps there will be times this Christmas when God will disappoint you, whether it's unanswered prayer or circumstances you can’t control... I pray that in these times we will turn to the one who came as a baby in a manger, and I pray that we will be reminded that even when things were not what we expected God came to us and is here with us... and his perfect plan is bigger than ours.
So even when our expectations are met with disappointment...
We have reason to celebrate.
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"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:74