Henry Ward Beecher, the late famous nineteenth century pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, was known to be a very patient man. One day, however, one of the members of his church found him anxiously pacing back and forth in his study, clearly uncharacteristically upset.
“What is the trouble?” asked the surprised parishioner.
“The trouble is that I am in a hurry and God isn’t,” Beecher replied.
Waiting is never easy and it must have been especially difficult for those who had prophesied and anticipated the Savior’s birth but hadn’t witnessed the fulfillment of this long awaited promise.
Moses was the first to write about the birth of the coming redeemer. David confirmed the prophecy of the first Christmas in the Psalms. Isaiah announced the expected virgin birth of Jesus seven hundred years before it happened (Isaiah 7:14). Micah revealed the location of the birth would be Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Other prophets added their voices to guarantee the coming of the Prince of Peace. But the slow years rolled into centuries and the centuries into millennia and the first Christmas still had not yet come.
How long those centuries of waiting must have seemed!
While others simply waited, hoping each new morn, that they might hear the news: “The Child is born!”
Then, suddenly, there was a flurry of angelic activity.
Gabriel appeared to Mary telling her she would give birth to the One whose coming had been awaited so long and assured her that this miracle of virgin birth was well within God’s power to accomplish.
Soon an angel was dispatched to Joseph, to whom Mary was engaged, giving more details of the coming miracle and assuring him this was all part of a wonderful plan to bring forgiveness of sins and eternal life as had been promised for so long.
Now that the time of the miracle had arrived, the Roman Empire would be brought into the picture. A tax would be levied that would require each family to return to its hometown. This would bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Mary would give birth to the Savior in a stable, fulfilling Micah’s prophecy.
So, right on time, Christ was born.
The time of the first Christmas had arrived, bringing angels, shepherds and later wise men fulfilling the promise made to prophets so long ago. Never mind that it took centuries and the moving of people and empires. God’s great plan was fulfilled right on time. And here you are fretting about the timing of events in your life. You’re in a hurry and upset because God isn’t.
At the proper time, our Lord comes through for those who trust Him. The first Christmas proves it.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.