“You’re going into labor,” those were the words that rocked Lynn and my world a couple years ago. It wasn’t long after we heard these words that our daughter was born. Now for most, this may not be shocking. However, Eleanor wasn’t supposed to come for another 3 months as many of you know. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” we kept telling ourselves. “She isn’t supposed to be here this early. What does this mean for her? For us? I haven’t even painted the nursery yet!” All day that day, our minds raced and panicked as we tried to grasp what was happening. Even today we still, years after the fact, we still try to grasp all that has occurred. I’m not so sure we will every completely understand it all, let alone remember it all.
With this in mind, I can now imagine how Mary and Joseph felt when they both received news of this of Mary’s pregnancy. I’m sure similar thoughts went through their minds like they did when Eleanor was born. I’m sure they thought things like, “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this; what does it mean for me; for us; for our child?” And yet, as a result they would be blessed by the very presence of God in their life.
If I’ve learned anything from Mary and Joseph as well as my family’s experience is God often shows up unexpectedly. Whether it is in the news of a virgin birth or a premature birth, God can take such situations and bring good news from them. Certainly we were scared and anxious the day Eleanor was born; yet, thousands of times since we have seen God at work in her and others who surrounded us in those difficult times. The same is true for Mary and Joseph. It was out of the trying circumstances of the pregnancy God’s light shined into the darkness of our world. It is often the case in the unanticipated circumstances God’s transforming power seems to be the greatest. Said another way, when we least expect it, God’s gracious presence blows us away. This Christmas, be on the lookout. God just might surprise you with gifts of love and grace which you never anticipated even if the circumstance may prove difficult. For it is God’s nature to shine light into darkness and provide hope in the midst of despair.