Summary: Do you ever experience spiritual highs followed by big time lows? Did Mary and Joseph experience that the morning after Jesus birth? How do we cope with defeat and weakness? Learn the lessons from 3 figures in the Bible.
One of my most exciting experiences of the year as a child was Christmas morning - I looked forward with anticipation to tearing through my presents to see what new GI Joe doll I’d get or Hot Wheels set awaited me. I’d been on pins and needles all Christmas night - hardly able to sleep.
But there followed shortly after one of the most depressing times of the year: as you wade through mounds of wrapping paper - searching for one more unopened treasure. PGEDS - I call it: Post Gift Event Depression Syndrome.
As I looked back on it - I thought about Mary and Joseph - who had just opened up the most amazing Christmas present in the universe: Jesus Christ. They’d had the incredible anticipation of the words of the angels - then as they arrived in Bethlehem, the labor. They worried about finding a place to stay - then how to make a birth comfortable in a stable. Then after the baby’s birth, lots of guests and adoration and wonder - and the post labor glow.
But after the glory faded, the shepherds gone, and dawn arriving - what are Mary and Joseph’s feelings, left with this fragile baby boy that is the King of the Universe? Are they left to their own now - to make their way in the cold world?
How are we to move on after God brings us through the dark and stormy night - and it’s the day after? There are times when we go through incredible struggles - fighting spiritual battles, holding on in the face of disease or turmoil. Or we attain what we feel is a great feat for the Lord - leading someone to salvation or countering a skeptic. Do we have our own PGEDS - Post God Event Depression Syndrome? Do we sometimes feel alone and down and like we’re now left to pick up somehow and carry on - like the miracle has passed, but the aftermath is still waiting for us on the other side.
There are three people that I want to highlight who experienced PGEDS:
Moses after confronting Pharaoh - self doubt. Exodus 5.
Moses attitude: "why did you ever send me?"
God’s answer: "Now you will see what I will do … you are called by MY name."
Elijah after the Mt Carmel victory - fear and escape. 1 Kings 19.
Elijah’s attitude was "I’ve done all these things for you - and look what I’ve gotten for it - they are after my life to kill me."
God’s answer: "What are you doing here, Elijah? I sent you on a mission, why have you left it - and, by the way, there are 7,000 others who are faithful to me."
God never answers the fact that Elijah’s life was in danger - He just promises to be with him in trouble.
Paul after seeing a revelation of the 3rd heaven (2 Corinthians 12) - pain & relief: he had a "thorn in the flesh."
Paul’s attitude: pleading for the pain to leave.
God’s answer: "My grace is sufficient … my power is made perfect in weakness."
1. A New Way to View God
Moses focused on who the enemy said he was - a nobody, instead of focusing on what God said about Him - that he was called by God’s name. Elijah focused on what the enemy threatened to do to him - Jezebel was going to kill him. Instead he needed to focus on who the real power of creation and destruction: God Almighty. Paul focused on what the enemy had done to him. Instead God wanted him to focus on the real reality - that God was using even the pain and torment to work His glory.
2. A New Way to View Their Mission
Moses thought he’d failed, even when he obeyed God. Elijah had a tremendous victory - but wanted to give up. Paul may have felt that he couldn’t go on after dealing with the torment of his condition. God told Moses that it was actually in the failure in his own power that he would see God’s power really at work. Elijah needed to realize that he was not the one carrying God’s torch for him - as if had he gotten himself killed then Yahweh would be finished in Israel. And Paul needed to know that strength is made perfect or complete - not in power, but in weakness.
The focus for Mary and Joseph wasn’t to be on the shepherds or the angels or the wise men or the gifts, or even on fulfilling Jesus’ mission for Him. Their mission was to raise Him as they were created to do. God had already equipped them for the job - and if they needed extra help (like escaping to Egypt) then God would provide it in that time. They just needed to raise Jesus - God would empower Him.