If you were pregnant with the King’s child, what provisions might you expect the King to supply for His only Son’s birth?
When Larry and I began our family, we were living in Orange County, California, the most expensive housing market in the US at the time. It was during the years of sky high inflation and we were paying 18% interest on our home mortgage. We were house poor! I remember the temptation to feel sorry for myself because I couldn’t afford to buy my new baby the cute things I adored.
The Christmas story jarred me from my self pity. Mary didn’t even have a clean room in which to deliver her baby. She wrapped her baby in strips of cloth. The king wanted to kill her baby. Suddenly my situation didn’t look so bad. I had a sewing machine and covered secondhand bumper pads with fresh gingham, painted a used crib — both turned out great. I had to climb one flight of steps while in labor, but she had to ride a donkey for miles. If such conditions were adequate for the Son of the Most High, who was I to complain? Mary’s story challenged my attitude and saved me from my expectations.
This year many have been hit hard by the economy. Others are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. Christmas brings with it certain assumptions and ghosts of past Christmases that can haunt and disturb our peace and joy.
If I had been Mary, I would have expected God to provide a private room with clean linens and a midwife to attend to the birth of His Son. Mary could have focused on such hardships as giving birth in a cold animal stable without any family to comfort or celebrate with her. She didn’t even have a bed.
Isaiah 55:9 says that God’s ways are higher than our ways. We know that higher is better. Think higher grades, higher standards, or higher values. The stable provided Mary and Joseph privacy and quiet that the packed inn would not have had. It also offered a place for the shepherds to visit and worship the incarnate Christ on His birth day. Mary’s family may have doubted her story, as Joseph had, and been a distraction, not a comfort. So God sent shepherds to share her joy and tell her that the angels celebrated with her.
Sometimes we fail to recognize and appreciate God’s perfect provisions for our lives when they don’t meet our expectations. Expectations can inflict unnecessary pain, and affect our relationships. What expectations are you putting on yourself and others this Christmas? How would surrendering those expectations enhance your Christmas and your worship?
This Christmas remember the first Christmas and how even though God’s provision was unexpected, His provision was perfect for Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds and us. Christ is the gift of Christmas and when we gratefully remember Him, the real wonder and awe of Christmas will be ours.
Merry Christmas from Larry and me,
Prayer requests: For grace to rest in God’s faithfulness; sustained energy; for us and our clients to walk in vibrant faith; adequate financial provision.
P.S. Thank you for your partnership in ministering to hurting individuals and families!