The Lord Is With You (Mary's Story)
By: Kristen L. McNulty
This year as I have reflected on the Christmas story, I’ve done something a little different. I decided to put myself in Mary’s shoes as I read through the events which surrounded Christ’s’ birth. As I read and reflected, I realized that if I were in her shoes I might have thought God was nowhere to be found in the events leading up to that night in Bethlehem.
Yes, the story started with an angel appearing telling her “The Lord is with you” and His plan was for her to carry the son of God and deliver Him into this world, even though she was an unmarried virgin. But events seem to go downhill from that point in time, not up.
First comes the news that guess what, it doesn’t matter that you’re pregnant, you have to walk over 100 kilometers on dirt roads over mountains all the way to Bethlehem. While many of us picture Mary riding on a donkey, the Bible doesn't indicate she had one and historically most made the journey on foot. I don’t know many nine month pregnant women who would willing walk ten kilometers, let alone one hundred. But walked she did. The same angels who greeted her and Joseph with the news of a child, stood on the sidelines, not bringing any assistance or even a holy hitchhiking opportunity.
Upon arriving in Bethlehem, likely exhausted and in pain from the toll the trip would have taken on a pregnant women, one would expect that when an angel tells you God is with you, that means a spot opens up in the Ritz or maybe even in a palace. But instead Mary and Joseph are lead into a dark musty place to spend the night next to smelly animals.
And if that wasn't enough, while in that place her water breaks and there, with no doctors or nurses or even family present to help, Mary goes through the pains of labor and delivery with animals watching on and a likely very nervous finance who had never delivered a baby before. When it came to ushering the son of God into the world, God stood back and let those two young, inexperienced and likely terrified teenagers bring the King of Kings into the world.
Jehoviah Jerieh, the God who provides, didn’t provide Mary with a ride to Bethlehem or a way out of her making the journey in the first place. He didn’t provide lodging or sanitary conditions for a birth. And He didn’t provide heavenly help for what had to be a very messy and chaotic birth.
Yet through it all I don’t hear one utterance of compliant from Mary or Joseph. Where I would have said "God you've got to be kidding me", the ones who were told “The Lord is with you” believed it even when they had every reason to doubt it and to me, besides an obvious example of faith, it hints that maybe God is trying to teach us something more with the Christmas story. And maybe the message He's sending is just because circumstances in your life don’t appear perfect doesn't mean the divine isn't at work. A lack of so-called human perfection can be just the perfect circumstances for God doing His best work.
You see through this birth, a birth that none of us would have ever scripted if trying to tell a Hollywood kind of story with the birth of a King, was actually the crescendo that all of history was building towards. With Christ’s birth in such a fashion numerous prophecies were fulfilled, which could have never been fulfilled otherwise.
From the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14)
To the birthplace of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), a birthplace that would have never happened without such a long journey from Nazareth.
To even the escape that Mary and Joseph had to take to Egypt after Jesus was born (Hosea 11:1).
To even Herod's bloody plan to stop a King from being born and raised in his kingdom (Jeremiah 31:15).
What we as humans view as inconvenience and “God you've got to be kidding me” or "God where are you in this?", God planned as a perfect chapter in the story of Love and Redemption He has been writing since the beginning of time.
So when you look around this Christmas and see circumstances that are difficult and painful, instead of looking around and thinking God is not with you, remember the words that the angel said to Mary before she walked her own painful journey, “The Lord is with you” and believe it. Because as the Christmas story tells us, even the painful and lonely moments can be the crescendo in God’s story for our lives.
Reprint rights available on request. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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