Have you ever had one of those moments in life where you ask yourself, "Why now? I'm trying to do the best I can to serve you, Lord. Why is this happening now? The timing just doesn't make sense to me."

Or, have you ever found yourself at a place in life where you thought to yourself, "Lord, I don't want to be here! I want to be someplace else. Where You have me doesn't make sense to me. I'm not happy. I'm lonely. I even feel hopeless. I don't want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. Why am I here?"

Or, maybe you've asked the question, "Why is this happening at all? I don't understand these circumstances. These circumstances don't make sense to me. They don't bear out the things that You've been telling me in Your word that You want me to believe. Right now I don't see anything good in my circumstances, and I don't see anything good that can come out of these circumstances. I don't understand what You're doing. I don't understand why this is happening. I don't understand what it's for. What are these circumstances all about?"

Ever been there? Ever asked those kinds of questions?

Well, God's waiting for you in Luke 2:1-7. I want you to see three things as we walk through this passage together.

I. The Timing and Place of Jesus' Birth

The timing of the Lord Jesus' birth is fascinating to me. Instead of choosing a time when Israel had peace on all sides, God chose a time when the nation had experienced numerous defeats and found itself being ruled over by polytheistic pagans.

And then there's the place of Jesus' birth - Bethlehem. You see it described in verses 4 and 5. You're already thinking as a believer, "Okay, I know that Micah 6:2 says the Messiah is going to be born in Bethlehem. How is God going to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so that the Messiah is born there?"

"No problem! I've got a Roman emperor and I've got a governor of Syria that will do just fine. And I've probably got Jewish administrators who will say, 'The best way for us to do this thing is to get people to go to their hometowns. That's the best way to register them.'"

And so Joseph and Mary are going to make their way all the way from Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, so that prophecy is going to be fulfilled.

God is sovereign in all our ways, in all our times, and in all our places. All the circumstances of our lives are in His hands. We can trust Him.

II. The Manner of Jesus' Birth

But isn't the manner of Jesus' birth startling in this passage? Look at verses 6 and 7. In it we have a window into the very heart of God. "While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to her firstborn son; she wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn."

My friends, this description of the manner of Jesus' birth, the context into which He was born, reminds us of the greatness of God's love to us in the gospel.

We have rebelled against Him. We have preferred to worship ourselves and our own dreams and our ambitions rather than Him. And in order to rescue us, the very people who have rejected Him, He prepares His Son to be born not in glory, but in humility; not in a palace of gold and silver, but in the feeding trough of unclean animals; not clothed in silk and beautiful baby garments, but wrapped up in cloths that have been stripped and wrapped around Him to keep Him warm in the manner of a peasant. In other words, in this passage we're seeing God humbling himself in the humbling of His Son for our sakes. It's a glorious picture of what God does for us in the gospel. Whatever it takes, He does. Whatever it costs, He pays. Wherever He has to go, He goes. Whatever He has to bear, He bears.

III. The Irony of it All

Finally, I want you to see the sheer irony of God's sovereignty displayed in the time and the place and especially in the manner of Jesus' birth. God's power is displayed in weakness.

Just a few weeks ago we were reading the word of the angel to Mary. If we had never read the story before, we would have been very surprised to learn that only a few sentences later after the words of the angel - "Greetings to you, highly favored one! The Lord is with you" - that that very same woman was going to hear "There is no room in the inn." Those don't go together! We would not have guessed that when the angel said, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest," that it would be said of Him "...they laid Him in a feeding trough for cattle." Those don't go together, do they? I mean, those circumstances seem to belie the power and comfort of God's words of blessing and promise and favor. "I'll never leave you or forsake you." (But there's no place for you to spend the night.) "He shall be called the Son of the Highest." ("Put Him right over there where the oxen eat their straw.")

I understand the uniqueness of this, of course, in redemptive history, my friends. But isn't this the way it is with believers in all generations? The Lord says to you, "I love you. I will never leave you or forsake you." (But you still hear the doctor say, "It's cancer." Or worse, "It's cancer; I'm sorry; I can't do anything.") "I'll never leave you or forsake you," the Lord says. (But some of you hear, "I just don't love you anymore." Or, "I've found somebody else.") "I'll never leave you or forsake you." ("Dad, I'm pregnant.") "I'll never leave you or forsake you." ("Mom, I hate you and I never want to see you again.") "I'll never leave you or forsake you." ("Mrs. Jones, on behalf of a grateful country, I want to extend our deepest sympathies and appreciation, because your son has given the ultimate sacrifice for his people.")

The circumstances seem to negate the blessing and the promise, don't they? Some of you think that circumstances can ruin your life. Some of you think that your circumstances have already ruined your life. But circumstances can't ruin your life. The only thing that can ruin your life is the way that you respond to circumstances. Because in this passage God is saying to us there is no circumstance where His power cannot be displayed. There is no circumstance where His promises are trumped. So trust Him. Believe Him.

We have to believe God's word when all the circumstances don't make sense. And when we do, His power is always displayed in our weakness.