Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Joseph and Mary followed the law by having the baby circumcised on the eighth day. Then, a few days later, they would have dedicated him to the Lord (Exodus 13:2) and made the offering of purification for mother and child. The law required a lamb for the offering, but if the woman was poor, the law allowed her to offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons (Leviticus 12:8). Because Mary offered two young pigeons, we know they were poor.
God chose Mary and Joseph to be the human parents of the Son of God, but God didn’t rescue them from experiencing severe poverty. God didn’t clear away the obstacles for them, so why should we expect more? We tend to feel entitled to a good life—a satisfying job, a desirable income, a happy relationship, and good health. We aren’t entitled to any of these things.
The “health and wealth” preachers have done a grave disservice by misrepresenting God as a Santa in the sky. God does bless us, but not always the way we expect or desire. No doubt, Mary and Joseph felt blessed, despite poverty and hardship.
According to Romans 8:35, 37:
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Material blessings aren’t a sign of divine favor. If you are poor or experiencing difficulties, it doesn’t mean God loves you less or you are somehow not pleasing to him.
Just because God chose you, doesn’t mean it will be easy. You may not have all the material blessings so coveted in our culture but you have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Lord, it is a relief to know my circumstances don’t reflect how you really feel about me. I don’t have to do more and try harder to earn your blessings or approval. Nothing can separate me from your love, not even poverty or calamity. In spite of my circumstances, you still love me and work through my life to achieve victory according to your plan. Thank you for blessing us with these details in the story of Mary and Joseph so we can see examples of your love, which is separate from circumstances. I accept your love and blessings now.
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