December 6, 2014 Joseph Swan

No Room At The Inn

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” 1 Peter 1.6 (NLT)

Most of us know the Christmas story back to front. We have grown up hearing about it every year, we’ve watched the movies, performed in the pageants and heard the sermons. I was reading through it again just this last week and something stood out to me which I had never seen before.

Joseph took his very pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem and they arrived only to discover that there was no where to stay. The Bible uses the phrase “there was no room at the inn.”

When we hear the word ‘inn’ don’t think Best Western or even the local pub.

In ancient times it was considered a great honour to host a traveler in your home. The inn, a communal shelter in the centre of town, was used only as a last resort. In Christmas pageants all over the world, it’s the inn keeper who gets a bad rap this time of year. After all, who sends a pregnant woman out to a stable! But there in no mention of an innkeeper in the Bible or even a stable for that matter!

I can imagine that as Joseph went from home to home looking for somewhere to stay, some of them his own family, would have faced rejection after rejection as doors were literally slammed in his face. Finally, as a last resort, he made his way to the inn, only to discover it was full!

If it were me, the temptation to get angry at God would have been there. “God all I’m trying to do is find a place to stay for me and my pregnant wife. I’m in this predicament because of you! After all she is carrying your baby! Don’t you even care!”

What Joseph couldn’t see as he stood on the street was that no matter how many doors slammed in his face, God had already prepared a manger for his son to be born. And with every slammed door, he was moving closer and closer to God’s answer for his situation!

1 Peter 1.6 reminds us that we will all endure many trials, but just for a little while. But be glad, rejoice… there is wonderful joy ahead.

A few years ago now I received a phone call from my doctor confirming test results saying that I had cancer.

Like Joseph from the story, I felt like doors slamming in my face. All the dreams in my heart that hadn’t come to pass yet, now seemed like they were wiped out and I’m sad to say it, but I got angry at God.

After a few days I had calmed down and did what I know I should have done in the first place, what I tell others to do when facing difficulty – I opened my Bible in search of answers. I believe that the Word of God is a solid foundation on which I can build my life. Everything else is like shifting sand, it’s temporary and you should never make a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance.

Instead like 1 Peter 1.6 says, focus on what lies in front of you. There is wonderful joy ahead! Don’t get distracted by what is happening around you you right now, instead look down the street. Doors may be slamming in your face but God has prepared a manger if you’ll just keep moving forward!

Maybe another day I can tell you all the things God has done for me since the diagnosis, but as I am writing this today, I am not only stronger in my faith but also cancer free.

The answers to your situation won’t be found getting angry at the closed door in front of your face. Instead trust God. He has a plan and a purpose for everything and He will provide what you need. You just have to keep moving forward.

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Comments (2)

  1. Ros Freestone

    Just noticed this Ps Joseph and really appreciated your insight into such a well known passage! It’s amazing how much we can learn from others who have journeyed a familiar road and become aware of things unnoticed in the past! Thanks for bringing this aspect to our attention! A great reminder to press on!!!!

  2. Colin

    Thanks for writing this. Very encouraging.. really want to hear more from you. You have a great gift from God.

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