I recently watched a video of the Christmas story. One scene that I found particularly poignant was when Mary and Joseph walked into the stable. After unsuccessfully searching for a place to stay, they gave in to the inevitable. But the looks on their faces as they entered the stable were priceless. I’m sure Joseph must have felt like a total failure as a husband. And poor Mary. She surely thought that this was not what she envisioned for the birth of her miraculous Baby Boy.
Do you remember when the angel announced to Mary that she was going to have a baby? It seems to me that there were a lot of details omitted from that conversation. “Mary, you will conceive and bear a son, and He will be called the Son of the Most High. Oh, and by the way, the day He is born, you’ll spend the entire day riding on a donkey. And you’ll give birth in a stable. And then you will lay the Baby in an animal’s feeding trough.” I find it fascinating that none of those “minor” details were mentioned in advance.
When our oldest son was born, things didn’t go quite as my wife, Barbara, and I had planned. Barb’s physician was unavailable, so we were stuck with the on-call doctor at the hospital. And his philosophy of childbirth was different than that of Barb’s usual doctor. So, instead of the birthing room, we ended up in a cold and sterile labor/delivery room. And I do mean cold. I remember her lying there shivering from the cold. I did my best to warm her, but my best efforts brought only a little comfort.
As the events of the night unfolded, Barb thought, “This is definitely not how I imagined this was going to be.” Then she thought back to that night when Mary gave birth to Jesus and realized that it wasn’t how Mary imagined it either. But Barb also quickly recognized that, no matter what happened, it was going to be okay, because God was with us.
That’s the message of Christmas: Emmanuel—God with us!
No matter what you’re facing, God is with you.