Unexpected TrialsPosted: December 20, 2012
Today, we continue our look at the unexpected events of Advent. We have taken a couple looks at Zecharias–his being chosen to enter The Holy Place and his visit from Gabriel.
Mary was a young woman, planning her life with Joseph, her fiance. We know that Mary was a descendant of King David, Matthew gives us the full lineage. She was living in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee. From other Gospels, we learn that Nazareth was not a well-liked city. John records Nathanael asking Philip “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (1:46). It is believed to be a small, insignificant town in that day.
But this insignificant town is home to a young woman who likely lived her life quietly. That is before an angel unexpectedly crashes into her world. “Greetings!” he said, ” you are highly favored, Mary.” Luke tells us that these words troubled Mary and she wondered what kind of greeting the angel brought.
Oops. “Do not fear, you have found favor with God,” the angel remembered to include, “You will have a son.” Wow, Mary thought. I am highly favored and have found favor with God. Now I will bear His son.
Except. Being highly favored for Mary means that her quiet life has now been turned upside down. According to custom, Mary can be stoned for being pregnant out of wedlock. If she isn’t killed, she will surely lose Joseph, the love of her life, because who would believe that she is carrying God’s son? God hasn’t even sent a prophet for hundreds of years. The embarrassment this will cause her family will cost her their love and support. Not to mention what will happen after the baby arrives. How will she support herself and a baby?
Yet Mary will choose to trust God. She will nurture and meet the earthly needs of this child. She will teach him. And someday, she will watch her son suffer and die on a cross for the sins of the world.
God knows the worldly sacrifice Mary will make, the humiliation and the personal peril. To God, what will happen to her over the next nine months is not unexpected. Her steps have been ordained so that God will be able to save the world from their sins. She will be a vessel to bring that love to the world.
Often, I find myself hoping that God will make my life easy. Unfortunately, that is not what he promised to those who know him. Sure, God loves the world and sent his son to die for us (John 3:16), but he also commands us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23). It is easy to rest knowing that I serve a God of love. It is not easy to deny what I desire, to take up my cross that often leads to public humiliation and ridicule, and follow him. Being a Christ-follower is not a fad, a political statement, or an easy thing to do. Being a Christ-follower involves sacrifice and heartache. And he offers the hope of better days.
How do you handle the unexpected trials that come with being a Christ-follower?