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I’m sure they were beyond exhausted.  They’d travelled a long way in hot daytime sun and cold desert night.  And to make matters worse, she was 9 months pregnant.  As the skyline of Bethlehem rose over the horizon, all they could probably think about was finding a warm, comfortable place to sleep.  And prepare for His arrival.

But so many others had travelled too, and it seemed everyone had gotten there before them.  Inn after inn was filled to the brim and they were turned away again and again.  Moving from street to street, perhaps they started to wonder if they’d have to sleep on the side of one of them. 

And I suspect they prayed.  They needed a place to stay.  They needed a place for her to give birth.  But as one door after another closed, did they start to wonder if God wasn’t listening?

Finally, after a long day of searching for shelter, God intervened.  He provided for their needs and gave them a place to stay.  But instead of providing the best room in the best hotel for His Son, he provided a barn.  Yes, Jesus, the King of the universe, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, the Provider Himself, was born in a barn.

There was no soft bed.  There was little privacy and only minimal protection from the cold that night.  But God met Joseph and Mary’s – and Jesus’ – needs.

So often I think we expect that God will meet our wants and we forget that He has promised to give us the things we need.  We need food.  We want a 5-course meal.  We need shelter.  We want a 25,000 square foot home with a nicely manicured lawn and an in-ground pool.  We need an income.  We want that income to be somewhere in the 6-figure range.

And when God meets our needs in ways that are less than what we want, we grumble and complain and accuse Him of not loving us.  When God sends peanut butter & jelly instead of steak, we whine.  When our shelter isn’t quite as nice as our friends’, we complain.  When the job He provides pays less than we were hoping for, we question His wisdom and guiding.

When, instead of a five-star hotel fit for a King, God provides a stable, we wonder if He really knows what He’s doing.

But this is truth: God provided for His Son.  God provides for us.  Always.  His provision may not end up looking like we envisioned it would, but at the end of the day, it is still His provision that we get.

So why a stable and not a hotel?  I don’t know for sure, but the stable teaches me these two things:

  1. God rarely does things by the book, but He is always faithful.
  2. Sometimes God chooses to go above and beyond in meeting my needs.  And for that, I will now be all the more grateful.

What does the stable teach you?  What’s your “stable”?