For most of us, we can recite the Christmas story. We can sing Christmas carols that tell the tale of a newborn baby lying in a manger because there was no room at the inn. But dig deeper and you will discover the vast amount of miracles that took place in order for God to reconcile Himself back to us. From the immaculate conception to Joseph’s change of heart to pointing the shepherds and wise men to the newborn king to protecting the baby from the wrath of Herod who was already jealous of this proclaimed usurper to the throne, the fact is that this entire situation was God-inspired, God-driven, and God-protected.
Beyond all of this, however, God chose to demonstrate His majesty through unexpected means and humble circumstances. Mary, a fourteen year old virgin with little to no means, is told by Gabriel that she has found favor with God and has been chosen to carry and birth the Messiah. Mary had no doubt heard the prophecies of the coming Messiah. All of Israel waited for their Savior. And out of the millions of Jewish girls, she would be the chosen one. Her betrothed was a mere carpenter. Neither of them had riches, but both had faith. And they needed it, especially for the coming months ahead. These months would be trying, testing them at every point. They had to endure the questions and judgmental glances of their neighbors and families who assumed the worst about her. To make matters worse, they had to travel in her third trimester back to Bethlehem for the census. This was probably quite inconvenient and uncomfortable for the both of them. Little did they realize they were fulfilling prophecy.
If Mary and Joseph only focused on their current dilemmas and struggles, this would have been a massive test of their faith. Sure, Gabriel showed up to the both of them, but that was months previous.
How many of us have ever received a Word from the Lord, only to feel His silence for months/years afterward? Do you start questioning? Doubting? I have a feeling Mary and Joseph had a lot of questions too. Especially when she went into labor on the road. Especially when the inn owners wouldn’t provide a room. Can you imagine the young Mary in the stable with all the animals about to deliver a baby? No bed, no clean sheets, no pillows, no hot water, no medicine. Can you imagine Joseph, trying to grapple with the fact that his wife that he has yet to “know” is about to deliver a child, and there is no one there to help but him? If we’re honest and put on the lens of reality for a minute, we might be able to admit that we would really struggle in this situation.
*Where are you now, God?
*You give me a promise, only to leave me high and dry?
*If this is your son, why am I in this filthy place?
*After all that I’m doing for you, couldn’t you have taken better care of me?
*Don’t you love me? You’re sure not acting like it!
*Why couldn’t there just have a room at the inn? Why couldn’t you have done that ONE thing for me?
The point is that what might have been unexpected–more than any of the other parts of the story we know–was the months that Mary and Joseph had to believe against all odds. For all those months from Gabriel’s first message to birth at Bethlehem, the Bible is quiet. Mary and Joseph had to believe God was with them as they made the journey. They had to push past doubt as Mary struggled with discomfort. They had to take what was given to them when the time came to birth the Messiah. Yet, they did exactly that. They pushed through months of uncertainty, so that the rest of the world could have hope.
Whatever you’re struggling with today, remember that God does things completely according to His own will and design. They oftentimes do not make sense to us. But if He has given you a promise, hold fast. It will come to pass, even in the most uncomfortable, unexpected situations.
So, remember: God is the God of the unexpected. He glories in the miraculous. He delights in taking what is not expected and showing up in all His majesty. Many were waiting for a king to secure the earthly throne, but God’s unexpected actions went beyond our mere natural world. He secured us a place with Him in the eternal.
Now that’s a reason to celebrate.
Merry Christmas. I pray God’s blessings and favor upon you and yours in the coming year.