Bethlehem Awaits

by Karen Wingate December 16, 2022
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

It hurt. My husband’s employers fired him without a word of warning. The next job required selling our beautiful home and moving several states away just as our daughters were entering high school and junior high.

How could God possibly be in this?

Only in hindsight did we realize God’s reasons for the move. Our new location was in a rural setting, which suited our family’s personality much better. Both girls thrived at their new schools, and all of us discovered long, enduring friendships. Then we understood how God had used my husband’s termination to bring us to a place where He had wonderful blessings waiting for us.

I wonder if Mary the mother of Jesus understood that her son had to be born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecies about the Messiah. When Joseph told her of the upcoming census that would require them to travel to his hometown, did her eyes light up with comprehension? But of course! The child I bear is the Messiah and He must be born in Bethlehem. And here God is using a Roman census to relocate us from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Isn’t God good?

Or was she clueless? She could have met Joseph’s announcement with this rebuttal:

“Are you serious? Dear heart, I am eight months pregnant. Bethlehem is 80 miles away. I am so NOT riding a donkey OR walking 80 miles in my condition.”

The Bible doesn’t specifically tell us whether Mary connected the dots between her baby’s identity as the Messiah and the location of His prophesied birth. But though Mary didn’t have specific details of the plan, her attitude of calm acceptance and hopeful assurance hints that she knew God was up to something amazing.

Her wide-eyed wonder and hope are expressed in the song of praise she shared with her cousin Elizabeth: “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 1:48b-49, NIV).

Today, as we count down the days until Christmas, we may not always feel like singing about “great things.” The month of December may hold all kinds of snags and detours that can complicate our plans. Have any of these happened to you right before Christmas?

  • The serious illness of a family member.
  • A canceled flight to visit family.
  • A children’s Christmas program gone awry.
  • Extra household expenses.

Mary’s trek to Bethlehem and my family’s move remind me that God can use what I consider aggravations and heartaches to reposition me so He can bless and use me more effectively.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD,” says Psalm 27:14. The Hebrew word for “wait” is closely related to the word for “hope,” and to hope means to look forward to the future with certainty and eager anticipation. Mary expressed this attitude when, after hearing the angel Gabriel’s message about Jesus, she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant … May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38, NIV).

As I approach each Christmas complication this year, I’d like to take on Mary’s attitude. I’d like to look at each change with anticipation spiced with a touch of hope-filled eagerness as I ask, OK, Lord, what do You have waiting for me?

Want to join me? Just think: Bethlehem awaits.

Lord, I invite You to show up in each difficulty I face over the next few weeks. Use these challenges to redirect me into Your glorious plan. Give me ideas of how I can make the most of change to honor and magnify You to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Is it unloving or selfish to set a boundary? Are boundaries even Christlike? Process questions like these alongside a community of women who also want to make progress with their relationships during the next Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study: Good Boundaries and Goodbyes by Lysa TerKeurst. During this study, Lysa will show you through a biblical lens how boundaries help us love others without losing the best of who we are. The study starts on January 23, so get your copy of the book and sign up today! Sign up now.

Karen Wingate’s book With Fresh Eyes will give you plenty of ideas of how you can praise God in the moment and wait for God’s future for you with eager expectation. In each of her 60 meditations, Karen’s humor and whimsy draw a connection between physical sight and spiritual understanding that will leave you with a renewed joy and delight in what is good and beautiful and will reassure you that God still works in the lives of His people. Know someone who needs a gift of hope this Christmas? Get a copy of Karen’s book for them here.


Celebrate God’s good gifts every day. Join Karen and others in Karen’s Facebook group, “What I Saw Today.”

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Luke 1:46-48, “And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed …’” (NIV)

Read Mary’s entire song of praise in Luke 1:46-55. How does Mary’s reflection on the past give her hope for what is coming next in her life? How do you see God working in your life to bring about His best for you? Share with us in the comments.

© 2022 by Karen Wingate. All rights reserved.

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