The night Jesus was born, the angels sang a glorious song in the countryside. The shepherds were amazed and filled with hope. Yet Jesus hadn’t done anything!
It was a wonderful glorious night! “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2.19 ESV). Surely with a feeling of wonder. But in the early morning, the angels were gone. The chickens had started to peck again, the merchants were talking loudly in the streets, and the mixture of sweat and animal droppings still stank the air around. When Jesus was only a dozen months old, his parents had to flee to Egypt to avoid an assassination attempt (Matthew 2:13). His birth had been proclaimed by a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God; the poorest of the poorest (the shepherds) had exalted Him with the richest of the rich (the wise men). Yet, nothing had changed. The Romans were still masters of the land, and Joseph was still a simple carpenter. Just because the Savior comes into our lives doesn’t mean everything changes immediately.
We are always in such a hurry, and everything is urgent. Yet God constantly speaks to us about building our foundations well. Our spirit is immediately alive upon our salvation, but our hearts and thoughts must begin the long process of transformation. Our flesh will continue to fight to regain its place of authority in our lives, and we will have to continue to fight against it. We start in glory, with the angels rejoicing in heaven, on the day of our salvation (Luke 15:10), but the next morning we realize that our physical reality has not changed, and we must learn to look at the spiritual things.
The same is true with the promise of marriage. The day we receive this confirmation from heaven, and we realize that a marriage is in God’s plans for our life. We jump for joy and cry out “Glory to God”. But a few days later (or a few hours!), seeing that nothing has changed, we forget the promise. Despite the visitation of angels at His birth and the miracles that accompanied His ministry. Jesus’ parents had stopped believing in His calling. “And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21 ESV).
To not fall into cynicism, the Bible invites us to remain in joy. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 ESV). By staying in praise, we prepare ourselves to enter into the promise. Before seeing the walls of Jericho fall, God asked Joshua and His people to praise the Lord by walking around the city, blowing the trumpets. David danced in front of the ark as it was carried to the city of David. Often in the Old Testament, the worship team marched in front of the army. God asks us to rejoice before we see His promise fulfilled.
And then, by faith, we must continue to rejoice until His promise is fulfilled. Otherwise, we could miss the promise, and even not see it when it comes before our eyes. So, let’s stay in praise, in our awe at His word. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 ESV)