Maybe this Christmas you’re not feeling it.
You’re done being merry. You’re tired of faking holly and jolly. You couldn’t care less about goodwill to man.
Things have not panned out for you the way you’d hoped when January 2019 dawned. Situations that looked promising have now been dampened by the reality of the last almost 12 months. Maybe there’s still no job, no promotion, no pregnancy, or no special person in the picture. It’s like 2019 was mocking you, jeering at your dreams and thinking up ways to disappoint you.
But even as you grapple with snuffed out hopes and feelings of failure, perhaps even loss, let’s look at a young girl whose life was turned upside down . . .
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had everything going for her.
Let’s imagine her in a 21st-century scenario. She’s a young woman in love. Her fiancé has posted pictures on social media -- #shesaidyes! The two of them are waiting for the engagement photos where they held hands in fields bathed in the golden light of dusk (wearing colour outfits, obviously). She’s planning to go wedding-dress shopping with her besties. She’s even picking out colours for the living room for the newly-weds’ first home together.
The year ahead was going to be picture perfect but then all her plans come to a screeching halt. She finds out she is pregnant. Worse still, she is unwed and pregnant.
This is not an Instagrammable moment. There’s no hashtag that can quite capture the magnitude of what she is experiencing. But what does this young girl whose plans have been upended do?
Within moments of hearing that she is with child, Mary pours out her heart in adoration and praise to God. What a peculiar response to a pressing problem.
If Mary looked at the nitty-gritty of her situation, it would have been downright disheartening. Given the culture and time period, the most likely scenario was divorce and possibly a lifetime of being ridiculed by her peers. But Mary looks past her circumstances to a God who works in ways far beyond what she can comprehend.
Her words don’t have a hint of fear but are filled with worshipful awe for a powerful, promise-keeping God.
The Message version puts it like this:
And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Saviour God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
(Luke Chapter 1)
In that moment, as she worshipped, Mary didn’t have all the answers. Again, in a 21st-century scenario, her questions would go something like this: Would Joseph reject her? Would she ever get married? Who would be her OB-GYN? Should she type out a birthing plan? What’s the best kind of crib for a baby, especially one who was King?
But smack dab in the middle of the unknown, even with all her plans crashing in on her, she knew that Jesus is the answer.
She carried within her Hope for whatever lay ahead. She sees herself as blessed and favoured - because she sees herself the way God sees her.
I don’t know what your disappointments of the last year have been. But God does. He holds those hurts in His hands, tenderly and lovingly. He is drawing you into His story even through all those unanswered questions.
Let’s remember Mary’s song of praise and declare that “His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.” Let His mercy wash over you – in swelling, overpowering wave after wave – as you step into this season of your life. Let Him be your Hope for the coming year.