Joseph woke up after the strangest dream. He told Mary, “I thought an angel was telling me to escape to Egypt as Herod’s son, Archelaus, is going to try and kill Jesus to ensure that he inherits the throne Herod gave up.” “Jesus is the son of God; there’s no way he’s going to be an exile from the Promised Land, nor be an immigrant in the land of our ancestor’s bondage.”
So Joseph and Mary got on their knees and prayed. God, who rescues those who cry out to Him, struck Archelaus dead with a lightning bolt from heaven.
Not the Bible: The Ungospel of Matthew 2:13-18
I bet you never ever thought about why God didn’t just strike down Herod who sought to kill His beloved Son.
Why on earth should they have to flee?
Surely, God won’t let anything touch His beloved!
The fact that we are thinking like this which doesn’t match up with the biblical witness, shows that we have believed a lie. It’s the comforting message pushed through many churches – “everything’s going to be all right”. So you should stand your ground. God will keep you safe.
That’s not the testimony of Christians in Russia, China, Korea, India and many other parts of the world. And it’s not the testimony of the disciples nor of Jesus.
But what we do read is that Jesus is called “Immanuel”, God with us.
No matter what we are going through God will be with us. Even when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death He is with us. Even when exiled from the Promised Land, God is with us. Even when we are persecuted God is with us.
That is the truth.
If we believe the lie of the false comfort message (as well-meaning as it might be) then when reality hits us – we are going to think that God doesn’t love us. That He has abandoned us. That He is not powerful.
Many will fall away at that point rejecting God along with the false message.
But we preach a God who has been called illegitimate, who was a refugee, who was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard and working with Satan, who was rejected by His own town, rejected by His family (who thought he was mad), betrayed by His friend and then killed by those He came to save.
We have a God who has been there – and will be there with us. No matter what life throws at us, we won’t give up but will seek to find Him in the midst of the pain.
Father, forgive me that I have believed the lie of “everything is going to be all right”. Forgive me that I have believed the lie that following you will mean a comfortable blessed life. Help me instead to embrace that you are my Immanuel, my God who is with me, who lives within me, who travels with me in every circumstance, who has been to hell and back. Give me comfort by Your Holy Spirit so that I experience Your life and light in every dark place that I walk. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.