Christmas speaks to us of God’s great plan and power. It tells us that God knew what was best for the world and that he held back until the appointed time when he would act. Countless eyes had closed in faith before the Savior came; many weary backs were bent with age in Herod’s day, clinging still to the hope that God would act; many hearts had almost failed for fear that somehow God had forgotten his promises of old.

But God does not forget. He works according to a plan that, because it wells up within his eternal being, has eternity in view and hence is in no hurry. The mystery that surrounds the very nature of God himself is woven into the outworking of his will. We do not know why eons passed before God stepped into the world for our redemption. But when the ages were full to the brim—like the ancient water clock that Paul used as an illustration—at that precise moment, God fulfilled his word and sent his Son (Gal. 4:4–5).

Aquinas, commenting on these verses, says, “Two reasons are given why that time was preordained for the coming of Christ. One is taken from His greatness: for since He that was to come was great, it was fitting that men be made ready for His coming by many indications and many preparations. The other is taken from the role of the one coming: for since a physician was to come, it was fitting that before his coming, men should be keenly aware of their infirmity, both as to their lack of knowledge during the Law of nature and as to their lack of virtue during the written Law.”

We must never forget that God is in control. When we look around and see the apparent collapse of what is right, we are tempted to doubt. At times we feel that no other generation has had so much reason to despair. But faith has always ...

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