Christmas is in 4 days. That is extremely hard to believe. This year has both flown by and dragged on. Nevertheless, here we are, just a few days away from the biggest holiday and the marker of the end of another year.
If we were to track where Mary and Joseph were 4 day prior to the birth of Jesus almost 2000 years ago, they would be on their way to Bethlehem to register for the census. This had to be an anxious time for the soon to be first-time parents. As they started out on their journey, they would have known that Mary could go into labor at anytime. Regardless, because of the law, they could not have avoided making the trip.
Nothing about Jesus’ birth story went as planned for Mary. I am positive that she had no intentions of becoming pregnant as a virgin and outside of marriage. They had to make the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she was 9 months pregnant. She was forced to give birth in what is basically a barn, with a bunch of animals around instead of friends and family. Then, she had no other choice but to put her son in a dirty manger because there was nowhere else to place him. Her first visitors were a group of shepherds, whom she had never met before in her life. It wasn’t ideal, nor what she wanted, but she trusted what God had promised her.
In Luke 1:30-33, Gabriel, speaking for God said these words to her:
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
This obviously threw Mary for a bit of a loop. The whole being a virgin and being pregnant thing didn’t add up. So, naturally, she asked the angel, “How will this be?” To summarize Gabriel’s response, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the Most High will overshadow you… For no word from God will ever fail.” As Mary sat there, looking at her newborn baby, and the circumstances she found herself in, she must have reflected on those words and found the encouragement she needed.
That is my advice for all of us this Christmas or any other time that we feel let down by the circumstances around us. There is encouragement in God’s promises. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to for your well-being, not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Psalm 34:18, “The word is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Romans 8:28, “We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called to his purpose.” Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I could go on and on. Scripture is full of God’s promises to love you and take care of you.
Therefore, whenever you are feeling down, whether it is this Christmas or any other time of year, remember Mary. Put into your mind the image of her sitting in the barn that Christmas night long ago. Ponder about how that must have failed to meet her expectations. Then, think about how God used those circumstances to change the world, so much so that we still celebrate it today. God fulfilled every promise he made to Mary; he will fulfill every promise that he has made to you through scripture. Never forget Gabriel’s parting statement, “For no word from God will ever fail.” His words and promises will never fail you.