Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This: Day 24

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

by

Today's Text: Luke 1:26-38

Text: Luke 1:26-38

Every year around December 20th, I’m reminded of the difference between my Christmas expectations and reality.

Expectations: Trim the tree! Write the cards! Sing the carols! Wrap the gifts! Bake the cookies! Ring the bells! See the people! Read the stories! Smell the smells! Feel the feelings! Use all the exclamation points! Repeat!

Reality: Have you ever seen The Best Christmas Pageant Ever? Where the Herdman children attend church for the snacks? And the girl who plays Mary almost burns the church down with her cigarette? And the children think Christmas is a story about spies? These should have been my expectations.

I don’t know about you, but from where I stand, all is not calm, nor is it bright. Sung more accurately, I would choose: “all is confusing, all is broken.” Anyone else? Praise the Lord that Christmas cheer is not the gospel.

Things were not calm or bright for Mary, either. In fact, when the angel Gabriel appeared, Scripture tells us she was greatly troubled (Luke 1:29). She’d expected to live a quiet, humble life with her soon-to-be husband, Joseph, but the news about her reality changed everything.

Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
- Luke 1:30-33

To the world, all would not have appeared calm nor bright, yet Mary was pregnant with hope. Gabriel’s news confirmed to her that the God she believed in was real—Hope incarnate was being knit together within her.

The same is true for us, isn’t it? The annunciation is a reminder that what we hope for is true and with us. He is Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). It declares the surety of our expectations and confidence in our reality.

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
- Luke 1:34

I think this is my favorite thing Mary ever says. She shows the natural human doubt that comes so easily to us: “How can this be, since I am ______?” You and I could insert a million things here—all the reasons we find to doubt God’s plans for us—couldn’t we?

God loves to birth hope from the impossible. This is the Truth that lies in a manger. The angel’s response to Mary’s doubt points her to the answer: It’s not up to her. It’s not up to us.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
- Luke 1:35

Friends, all may not be calm or bright in our broken world, but all is His. May Christ overshadow our expectations and understanding with His presence. May we hear and receive the same good news delivered to Mary: Hope is born within us through Christ. Hallelujah. SRT-Advent16-Instagram24s

  • So thankful that there is an authentic meaning to Christmas other than just the holidays itself, that I can find hope and joy through all the madness that the holidays brings along.

  • Colleen Bednarchik

    I love Mary’s faithful & humble response to this astounding announcement in Luke chapter one. She does not doubt. She does not ask like Zechariah “how shall I know this?”, as though God is small, limited, trifling, & unworthy of our trust. She does not list the impedements to God’s plan. She submits immediately. If this is God’s plan, God’s design, then she’s all in. Her question is simply one of logistics. Mary asks how she should expect this plan to be worked out in her life, especially since she is a virgin. As a participant, she wants to know what to expect & how God will bring this miraculous pregnancy about. She asks for details of the plan. When the angel informs Mary that Elizabeth is pregnant, he says “your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son & this is the sixth month with her who was called barren”. Then the angel concludes with a statement that is essentially the answer to Zechariah’s question “how shall I know this?”… “For nothing is impossible with God.” This is, of course, instructive & reassuring to Mary as well, but her magnificat testifies to the depth of her faith & surrender to God as well as her trust in our promise-keeping God & Father who is powerfully active in human events. I’m afraid in similar circumstances I would err with Zechariah in imposing the limitations of man on God, but I will pray for a faith that is deep & unshakable, focused steadily on the God who is worthy or our trust, & willing to go anywhere the Father wishes to take me. Then I will say with Mary “My soul magnifies the Lord, & my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

  • I often wonder what the difference is between Zechariah’s questioning of “how will I know, for I am an old man” that lead to his silencing to Mary’s response of “how will this be since I am a virgin”. The similar responses don’t seem to result in similar endings. Mary is simply told an answer while Zechariah’s question seems to be taken as doubt. It must be a heart issue that is only known to God, but interesting nonetheless.

    • Dianne

      I was thinking about that, too, and I believe you’re right – it’s a heart issue and God knows our hearts. He knows if our questions are genuine; maybe we don’t really understand, and He knows when we doubt Him. But I think we can apply that to our own relationships, too, remembering that we don’t always know someone’s heart or sincerity…but God does.

    • Julia

      I always wonder this too! And Dianne, I love what you said about the reality that we don’t know what is in people’s hearts should be applied to our everyday relationships. We can’t know how God is working and calling individual hearts to him and need to trust him and have grace for the people in our lives.

  • Kerri Darby

    I find it inspiring that Mary uses the phrase, “HOW will this be SINCE…?” As I read it, she’s expressing both certainty in God’s Word & doubt in her circumstance simultaneously! Just like I so often do! Gabriel didn’t have a measure of discipline for her as he did Zechariah, because God looked at their hearts. Precious Mary believed God’s word, even while doubting her situation. This fills me with hope!! The Lord knows my complex heart; the ways I believe and my unbelief, sometimes intertwined!!

    • Sarah Pinault

      Kerri, that’s perfect. I always read this as Mary knowing it would be but asking “How in the world????” but you have hit the nail on the head, “she’s expressing both certainty in God’s Word & doubt in her circumstance”

    • rochelle

      needed to read that. thanks, kerri!

  • I so needed to hear of this hope today!! Thank you for the reality check and for the assurance that all will be well.

  • Abby MacDougall

    This was probably my favorite devo so far! I love the hope found in this passage; the hope that in the chaos and confusion, Jesus brings life. He comes to make things bright! I love that there is a hope of salvation and eternal peace AND the glorious and humbling hope that He would use us, use me, despite our doubts and faults. Praise be to God for His redemptive plan and His love for us so deep that He would use us in it!

  • Friends. I just needed to write out a prayer for the people of Aleppo/Syria (I like writing out my prayers the best because it makes them seem more concrete), and I apologize that this prayer does not go along with the passage and devotional from today. I have just been so so burdened by the images and words I have seen concerning the situation in these areas, and I have especially been burdened for the souls of the many men, women, and children who have lost their lives. I have been listening to the song “King of my Heart” by Bethel music, and the phrase “You’re never gonna let me down” has been playing over and over in my head as I continue to hear about the news in Aleppo/Syria.

    Father,
    You are good Lord, and You will never let us down. Father even as I see the destruction of a nation, the death of innocent people, the hatred shown by others, the guns, the violence– in all these things YOU are GOOD. Father from the human perspective, from my perspective, it seems that there is absolutely nothing good that can come from this situation. There are so many people who have lost their lives, and it is likely that many of them never surrendered their lives to You. God I lift up Aleppo/Syria to You tonight, and ask that, even though we may not be able to see it, that light would be shed on Your goodness, Your mercy, Your compassion, Your faithfulness, Your persistence, Your provision, and Your majesty. Father I ask for restoration on behalf of the people in these areas, and I ask for healing. This healing may not be physical healing if that is not Your will, but Father I do ask for spiritual and emotional healing for those still alive. Father for those of us who are seeing these events happen and feel as if there is nothing we can do, strengthen us so that we may pray boldly for those in Aleppo/Syria, and that we may not doubt Your goodness for a SINGLE MOMENT. Lord it is so easy to doubt Your goodness when things do not look “good” from our perspective. Father remind us that YOU define GOOD. You ARE good, and the heavens and the earth were created for the purpose of displaying Your goodness. Thank You for that reminder tonight. Lord cover these areas in a blanket of compassion, and allow the people of Aleppo/Syria to find trust, fullness, strength, and perspective in You. Lord I feel like there is much more that I should say, but I honestly don’t have anymore words. Thank you Father that the Holy Spirit intervenes for us and prays on our behalf to You. Thank you Father for hearing my cry. No matter the outcome Father, You never fall off of your throne. Thank you. Father as this situation overwhelms both those who are experiencing this disaster and those who are hearing about this disaster on the other side of the globe, I pray that we, your creation, would not be overwhelmed by this situation, but by Your goodness and Your glory.

    Amen.

    • Heather

      Thanks for posting this prayer! I will be praying it along with you.

    • Caroline

      Beautiful.

    • Stephanie

      Amen!

    • Melinda Watters

      Thank you so much for posting this. Today this situation has been on my heart and you have confirmed my sensing the need to pause and pray for these people. Thank you.

    • Tina

      Amen…

    • Abby MacDougall

      Amen, Emily! Thank you for this. I think it is extremely relevant, as this Scripture proclaims that nothing is impossible with God. Peace and restoration are not impossible with Him, though the world may see it as hopeless. Let us continue to boldly pray in confidence!

    • Dana

      Father come near! Hear our prayer! Amen.

    • Naomi

      Thank you for putting into words what has been on my heart for these dear people in Aleppo, Syria.

    • Christina

      This situation has been on my heart and in my prayers these last days, as well. Thank you for sharing!

      Toward the end of the article I’m sharing here is a list of ways to pray for Aleppo, the way I’ve begun to pray, and very much covered in your prayer here), and also ways to get involved. It has become my go-to resource the past couple of days for prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction for mine and my family’s involvement.

      https://www.imb.org/2016/12/19/aleppo-city-of-suffering/

    • Jenna

      Amen, sister!! He is there! What a great opportunity for believers around the world to reach out to the fleeing refugees! Remember, friends, we can pray and we can also help-Preemptive Love Coalition is on ground feeding tens of thousands of people every day, rebuilding homes, and distributing survival items like sleeping bags. Find ways to give! $30 pays for two people to have sleeping bags, $250 can feed ten families for a MONTH! Every little bit counts!

      • Kris

        Yes! Preemptive Love Coalition is doing good work! So thankful they are on the ground being hands and feet!

    • Kris

      My heart hurts for Aleppo also. Thank you for this prayer…it echos my feelings. I’ll continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria.

  • I love the thought of entering my own weaknesses, flaws, or places I feel incapable into Mary’s question. The Lord knows each and every weakness I have, and still pursues me, challenges me, and calls me into some scary things (no matter how small)! He takes over our weaknesses with His astounding perfection!
    After Mary asked the question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” she says “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord…”
    I pray that we could all be servants of the Lord, that we would be willing to be used in any way, and that our trust in the Lord would overcome the fear we may have!

  • So beautiful. I just love this.. how Jesus came and it had nothing to do with our expectations but His plan. He came because of our brokenness so we don’t have to have it all together.

  • Akua-Sodio Flanagan

    Kaitlin,
    I enjoyed reading your post this morning but, the last paragraph did it for me particularly where you say ” May Christ overshadow our expectations”. Everyday I battle my own expectations fighting against myself. putting unnecessary pressure and stress on myself and for what? The concerns of others, pinterest, HGTV, my job, living and wanting to be well put together. I don’t just want Christ to overshadow my expectations and understandings with his presence I want him to shatter them bringing me rest and confidence in his presence. Taking things one day at time. Hope my ramblings made sense ladies. Merry Christmas

    • Kimone

      Amen. May He shatter them (our expectations) bringing me rest and confidence in His presence. Love this. Thank you. Merry Christmas. God bless.

  • Oops hit post before I was done as my son came into the room asking questions. Anyhow I needed to hear that today that God loves to birth HOPE from the impossible as we are facing hardships, disappointments and heartaches right now.

  • I loved that too, God loves to birth hope

  • “God loves to birth hope from the impossible. This is the Truth that lies in a manger. The angel’s response to Mary’s doubt points her to the answer: It’s not up to her. It’s not up to us.”

    I absolutely love this. Over the past few months, people have asked me some questions about my future that right now, I don’t have the answers for. I have actually used these exact words in response several times – “It’s not up to me.” In the past I have been such a planner, but the older I get the more I realize that making grand plans for my life is completely futile if God is not in the midst of them. So thankful that it’s not up to me, but to the One who is able to birth hope from the impossible.

  • This resonated so deeply with me. With a house full of toddlers, our December has been stricken with sickness after sickness. Many activities in which we had hoped to participate have come and gone, and we remain home nursing our coughs and fevers. We have also had family members facing very near death and cancer diagnoses. In short, not very jolly or merry by worldly standards. This post convicted me of placing my hope in my own expectations of Christmas instead of CHRIST. So thankful for this app today.

  • Having read Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect this fall, I am learning this lesson in many (maybe all) areas of my life. I can’t do everything, my expectations or “shoulds” are not what governs a situation. God does. And not being able to do it all has no impact on my value to God. He loves me. All of me. And I can do nothing to change that, or make him love me more.

    • Akua-Sodio Flanagan

      Jackie I really liked reading your response to today’s post. Your response hit home with me. Thank you for those words.

  • Kasey Summers

    Y’all I am such a sucker for movies. I get pulled in and they have all of my attention and emotions…. I get invested in what’s going on…. lol

    Well, last night I watched the chronicles of Narnia for the first time and when Aslan the lion gave himself as a sacrifice to save Edmond. I was almost crying. My heart was hurting bc I was so sad. I knew the movie was a picture of the gospel but wasn’t sure all the parallels and ending… so I was super upset. Wanting to know will he come back to life and then eventually… felt like it took forever. He came back to life and I found my self hitting My husband- waking him up saying He’s alive! He’s alive! I got so excited!!! And felt so much joy! And sometimes our hearts forget the beauty of the gospel and it was just brought so alive to me last night. I kept finding myself telling the Lord just thank you thank you thank you for all you have done for us! When the queen/witch/suppose to be a picture of Satan lady… when she saw Aslan was alive, she said, “Impossible.” And when I read today’s devotional I thought about last night and how nothing at all is impossible for God! He is so big! He is so loving! He defeated death for us! Sometimes we feel his presence more than others but he’s always there! I wanted to be able to give him a big hug the way the girls in the movie were hugging Aslan. Sorry for the book but man if u haven’t seen the movie go watch it!!!! It’s on Netflix! It’s so so good!!! Praying you all have a great day!!

    • Emily

      The relationship between Aslan and Lucy has always been precious to me. I’m so glad there’s someone else out there who gets as excited as I do when I watch that movie! Really I come away speechless every time because never has a book series I read over and over as a child come to life so exactly how I pictured it in my mind all those years. And then to grow up and see the beautiful alliteration of the gospel, well it’s about the best thing ever. Hope you get to watch them all! Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite.

    • Cindybelle

      These were my favorite books growing up, and I love your reminder that we should continue to be excited, with tears in our eyes, saying He is alive! God is with us!!!!

    • Tricia Cavanaugh

      Kasey, I read the whole series growing up (eons ago) and just love the story. I have listened to the audiobooks multiple times since then. C.S. Lewis did a great job.
      It is a good reminder to give it to God. He is our Father. He will take care of us even in our struggles.
      Meet Christmas!

    • Caroline

      It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but I’m reading the series now for the first time, and I’m in love. C.S. Lewis works some story with a Biblical background and a lesson in each book, and it is mind blowing. The way he portrays Aslan perfectly matches the character of our majestic, merciful, just, and loving God.

    • kendall

      I also watched Chronicles of Narnia last night! I hadn’t seen it since its release date when I was about 7, and I was amazed how strong the allegory was. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and Merry Christmas!

    • Kasey Summers

      Awe it’s so neat to see how Narnia has influenced others as well! God is so good!! Merry Christmas!!!

  • I just wanted to give a special thanks to Kaitlin for her beautiful post. A) I need a good laugh and will be watching that movie because it sounds hilarious B) May Christ overshadow our expectations and understanding with his presence… C) Hope is born within us through Christ!!!! I will be rereading this post throughout the day. It was just on time for me! Thank you!!! I am so grateful the Holy Spirit shines through our beautiful sisters in this way! Thank you, Kaitlin!

    • She Reads Truth

      Lana! Thank you so much for your kind words and for joining us today. That movie/play is one that is a good holiday chuckle every time. Merry Christmas!

      Xoxo-Kaitlin

  • She was “pregnant with hope.” I love this so much. I have a blog post on being pregnant with hope, but I never correlated it to Mary until now. So thankful that God loves to do miracles and works in the impossible realm every day!
    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Sonja Cox

    “Praise the Lord that Christmas cheer is not the Gospel!” Amen!!!

  • Hallelujah ❣❣❣

  • Mandi Garcia

    A much needed reminded of what really is important this time of year. I have been so consumed lately in the feeling of Christmas and have gotten caught up in the buying of presents. I am so thankful that God sent us the most important gift we could ever receive. So thankful that Jesus was sent to us to redeem us from our sins.

  • Hailey T.

    Growing up I never knew if it was going to be a “good Christmas”. My mother has an emotional disorder (I didn’t know that then) and so it was always a toss up whether her mood would bring sour to the day or cheer. That is a sad memory, but it hasn’t ruined my love for the season. I love the movies, the decorations, the songs (oh, the songs!). I pray to not hold tradition, treats, or pinterest ideas responsible for my happiness in this season. Mary, a virgin, carried our Savior. He is born and will be Risen! Praise him in the twinkle of lights and the jingle of bells. Praise him in the bitter cold and the sour notes. “The same is true for us, isn’t it? The annunciation is a reminder that what we hope for is true and with us. He is Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). It declares the surety of our expectations and confidence in our reality. “

  • Carrie Rogers

    Hope! Thanks be to God!

  • This morning, I wanted to pray, “let it be to me according to Your word.” But I hesitated, and the thought jumped to my mind, “How can I commit myself to that level of consecration when I am only recently returning to the Lord after floundering in my spiritual life for quite a while?” I had to laugh; I just asked the same question Mary did. This morning I’ve realized (again, because it’s one of those things I know but still have to learn over and over again) that God is not interested in my strength, but in my submission. He has always chosen the weak who are willing to give their all to Him. It reminds me of a song called “Breath of Heaven”, where Mary says, “Do You wonder as You watch my face / If a wiser one should have had my place? / But I offer all I am / For the mercy of Your plan…”

    I think God chose Mary not because she was stronger or wiser than every other woman in Israel, but because she was willing to give everything she was to Him. The same principle applies to me. The road back to Him requires consecration. I don’t have to be wise, or strong: I just have to be willing to let Him have all of me. He takes care of the rest.

    “Let it be to me according to Your word.” Luke 1:38

    • Maggie

      Amy, I love your honesty and insight. thank-you for sharing your journey. your words really hit home with me today.

    • Kaley

      Yes, Amy, thank you so much for sharing! It really resonated with me too. No matter where we are in our walk, we often need reminding that God wants all of us, not just a piece, and we don’t have to be perfect, exceptionally strong, highly wise, or anything else. We just have to be willing to fully submit to His unconditional love and His perfect plan. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Marytony

      Amen! What a beautiful reminder…

  • Johanne Smith

    I’m constantly feeling inadequate about being a mom, being a wife, keeping up a home, being a follower of Christ, etc. But then this reminds me that God is the one who makes things possible, not me. “How will this be since I am (a) _______?” Is the story of my life, but I’m happy for the hope of fulfilling God’s purpose for me because of who He is and not based on my shortcomings or insecurities

  • I am so thankful that in the world that is so broken in so many ways, there is hope… at it is Christ as he appears in multiple places and forms. Praise be to God!

  • Chevaleresse

    Reading Luke 1:26-36 but 36 is sticking with me. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be as you have said.”
    I want her heart – not to doubt or question (though she did 34) or rather not to keep doing so and just accept His plans with humility and grace, to be His completely and trust implicitly. I will admit I struggle with this, because I want to question, analyze, apply logic… but that doesn’t always work with the Word. Her strength to humbly accept the life changing event and the burden of this blessing are astounding. She truly is an amazing woman, one whose heart and strength we can only hope to emulate as daughters of the King.

  • Verse 38- Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; LET IT BE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD. This spoke to me this morning in such a powerful way. Did Mary really grasp all that she was saying, all that she would face. The ridicule of becoming pregnant, the possible rejection of her fiancé, the struggles with her future children as The siblings of Jesus, the disagreements with the leaders of the temple of her faith, the rejection of the people of her son, the ache of a mother to watch her son suffer and die, the love of his following so great that it would take him away from her. All these things I think of as a mother of what we face or even just as people yet here she states with gentle simple faith-Let it be to me according to,your word- go ahead God, I trust you with all that I am, do what you need to do. Am I willing to let it all go and just say in my own life-Let it be to me according to your word. Pondering that all day.

    • Marytony

      I agree with you. But I think this is a response that is not said just once, it is a constant surrender that needs to be declared over and over in the midst of all challenges, rejection, pain and suffering…

      • Taylor

        Amen to that! I often find I have to keep giving back to Jesus what I have already laid at his feet. It’s so easy to try and take back the control over situations. Jesus’ ways are so much better than mine!

  • Laura Warden

    “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” I am always blown away my Mary’s obedience and trust in this passage. Lord allow me to be your servant, no strings attached.

  • “How can this be, since I am ______?” fill in the blank!
    I am completely slain by this AND by that answer to her question: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
    – Luke 1:35
    For every single thing I could put on that blank the answer is: “The Holy Spirit . . .”

    • SusieP

      What a WONDERFUL thought to take with me into this day. Thank you, Cindy!

    • Marytony

      Amen! I love it! The Holy Spirit is the answer to our “how’s?”. That is why Jesus said that it was better for Him to leave, because now we have the Holy Spirit with us.

    • Laura

      Thank you for sharing this, Cindy! I’ve never commented on here before, but I just had to to say that you really hit this point home for me.

  • Mary. She has always been someone I have been humbled by. Her obedience is beautiful and while I’m sure she had her moments, I’m certain my response, in that situation, would not have been so graceful. In my teens, I cared more about myself than anyone and to have God Himself tell me He had different plans for me, would have been an afront to my ego. And yet, some 30 years later, I still have my moments. “God loves to birth hope from the impossible” … this sentence is brilliant because it is so remarkably true. More times than I can count, God has blessed me with front row seats to the “impossible” in my life. Each time, never leaving me disappointed. The reality of God’s continued work in my life has left me saying, in the face of potential chaos, “I am expectant about what God will do. Can’t wait to see how He will work this one out” … It has earned me the title of “eternal optimist” in my family because my eyes tend to skim the battlefield in front of us and I immediately see victory. I know what’s coming, I know there is pain in the process and I accept it but I also know that in Christ, we have been assured “a win” …. It may not look anything like we think, but we’ve been assured it regardless. That said, again, I still have my moments and I know that some circumstances are so much tougher to hold onto than others but if I can remember, even when I see things panning out vastly different than my intentions, that not only has Hope Incarnate arrived, but also victory , I can find peace. Everything here is temporal, everything; financial trauma, health trouble, losses of loved ones, heartache … all of it. Mary was likely able to overcome the “but my plans…” moments, the “what if I end up alone…” moments, the “I’m truly terrified…” moments because she held onto the words, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God”. And you know what, those words are not just for Mary, they are for us too. Undeservingly even, *we* have found favor with God, we do not need to fear our future or what might lie in our midst. God is with us. In Christ, we have victory!

  • God loves to birth hope from the impossible….SO good!!!

  • So very sorry for your loss Tina.

  • There were so many good nuggets of truth this morning! One that made my heart jump…”Friends, all may not be calm or bright in our broken world, but all is His.”

    Praise Jesus! Hallelujah! I’m so thankful my broken and sinful body is His! This is what I want to focus on in the coming days. Every thought, every relative, every tear, every gift , every broken relationship, every song, every child…..all of it….it’s all His.

  • As I read the story of Jesus’ birth this morning, and Mary’s need to trust when it makes no human sense, I am lead to Proverbs 3:5-6King James Version (KJV)

    5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

    6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    So many times I have needed to remind myself of this. May Mary be the perfect example. We shall be comforted knowing we do not have to have all the answers. The Lord is our guidepost, our light.

    Dear friends, we must remember that the right path and the easiest path are not always the same. But it is all with purpose where we walk. He has a reason. Amen.

  • Sara Laurent

    I constantly struggle with my expectations for a perfect this or a memorable that and am consistently let down. I am trying to learn to let go of my perceived idea of “perfect” or well spent holidays, experiences, moments and just focus on making memories and growing in myself. It’s hard.

  • Christina

    As I read today, I began to wonder, what was the difference between Zechariah’s question (“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”), that earned him silence for nine months, and Mary’s question (“How can this be, since I am a virgin?”)? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I’m guessing maybe Mary’s question was rooted in her young innocence, and Zechariah’s question came toward the end of a long life of faithful service in which God Himself had proven faithful to Zechariah time and again. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I hear about something seemingly impossibly exciting that is going to happen, or even something that is full of hope that will not be easy but still seems impossible, I either sense an excited resolve or get a smile on my face that I can’t erase, and I begin to ask, “How is this going to go down, Lord? I don’t even see how it’s possible, but I’m excited to watch you work it out!” And now I need to take this principle into my life. What is it that God has promised that I’ve allowed the years to turn to doubt because it hasn’t happened yet? How can I reinstate the excited, cautious resolve of watching for the Lord at work in the circumstances of my life? Because my doubt has resulted in living in a state of depression and unhealthy retrospection over the past several months.

    “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glorious grace.”

    • Claire

      I had wondered the same thing about Mary and Zechariah’s response. Thanks for your thoughts and great reminders.

      I tend to think about the heart behind Zechariah’s response to be “Really? Really! That’s impossible Lord and let me remind you why.” For Mary, I interpret the heart of Mary’s response to be more like “How will you do it God? Since I’m not the typical mom, this is beyond my understanding.” This is all speculation of course, but certainly it helps me consider the difference in their heart responses and to evaluate the responses of my own heart.

      • Marytony

        I was pondering these things in my heart as well. Also I think there is another factor to consider: Zechariah prayed for a son, and he was receiving an answer to his prayer. God was finally saying “yes” to the desire of his heart and his reaction was disbelief.
        On the other hand, Mary did not ask for a son, but she received it anyways. She was surprised to be chosen, surprised at the impossibility of having a son being a virgin, but God was gracious to calm her anxieties.
        So regardless if God says “Yes” to the long awaited desire of my heart, or if he surprises me with the unexpected wonders of his will, I pray that my response might be a surrendered and thankful “here is your servant, let it be done unto me as you have spoken”.

    • Elaine

      Amen, Christina! Wonderful thoughts as I am feeling the same way this morning! I’m waiting with great expectancy for His timing of miracles in my life. This gives me renewed patience and faith!

    • Blessed

      I was asking the exact same question! I’d like to see what others may think as well….

      • Marytony

        I was pondering these things in my heart as well. Also I think there is another factor to consider: Zechariah prayed for a son, and he was receiving an answer to his prayer. God was finally saying “yes” to the desire of his heart and his reaction was disbelief.
        On the other hand, Mary did not asked for a son, but she received it anyways. She was surprised to be chosen, surprised at the impossibility of having a son being a virgin, but God was gracious to calm her anxieties.
        So regardless if God says “Yes” to the long awaited desire of my heart, or if he surprises me with the unexpected wonders of his will, I pray that my response might be a surrendered and thankful “here is your servant, let it be done unto me as you have spoken”.

    • Lana

      Love your comment! I was wondering the same thing. I think Claire nailed it. It has to do with heart. I realized that sometimes I offer lip service to God, but my heart is saying something else entirely. Living with a pure heart – a HEART that says Yes to God, is what I am working on. So I really think it’s less about their words (which aren’t that different perhaps), and more about their spirits. Zechariah had a spirit of disbelief, maybe even slight anger. I mean can you imagine having a baby at 80? I mean the sheer energy it requires, not to mention the health implications for his wife. He was probably like, seriously God? You wait until WE ARE 80 YEARS OLD?!?!???! Whereas I feel that Mary had a spirit of pure service and humility when she asked. Such a thought provoking question!

    • Marytony

      I was pondering these things in my heart as well. Also I think there is another factor to consider: Zechariah prayed for a son, and he was receiving an answer to his prayer. God was finally saying “yes” to the desire of his heart and his reaction was disbelief.
      On the other hand, Mary did not ask for a son, but she received it anyways. She was surprised to be chosen, surprised at the impossibility of having a son being a virgin, but God was gracious to calm her anxieties.
      So regardless if God says “Yes” to the long awaited desire of my heart, or if he surprises me with the unexpected wonders of his will, I pray that my response might be a surrendered and thankful “here is your servant, let it be done unto me as you have spoken”.

  • churchmouse

    I leave my nativity up all year round. Not because I’m too lazy to put it away or I’m Christmas – obsessed but because I need the reminder that He is with me. Emmanuel. God. With. Us. No matter what . And because of that, because of Him, I can face every day with hope. Not pie in the sky wishing but Rock solid, it’s a sure thing HOPE. Hope embodied in Jesus. Emmanuel . God with us. In the hard. In the holy. In the no matter what.

    • Mary

      I too leave a small nativity up all year. For the same reason, to remember that He came for us. The God of the universe wrapped Himself in flesh and came for us! Forever grateful!
      Merry Christmas, He came for us!

    • Hailey T.

      I love the idea of the nativity on our hearts all year. Not just in this season.

    • Ragnhild

      While reading this I’ve been watching my tiny nativity; Mary, Joseph and Jesus all carved in one figurine. They seem to look at the candlelight and stretch toward it. It reminds me to look to the Light myself, and I love the idea of keeping this on display all year. Thank you for the idea!

  • This is what I’ve been thinking for weeks. Expectations vs reality. Harsh contrast yet something in me thinks that the realty of celebrating Jesus in this broken world is the best thing I’ll ever get to do. And I can learn to enjoy the imperfections of Christmas while celebrating the perfect One. Thank you!

    • Sue D.

      Love your comment Clotilde, the reality of celebrating Jesus in this broken world is the best thing I’ll ever get to do. May we all remember that this Christmas!

  • As weeks ago, I cheerfully answered the phone to my youngest child, to hear the words….”….I have some bad news…” I do not take words like that very well… if you start a sentence like that, expect me to crumble before your very eyes, because my mind goes straight to worse case scenario…and sadly this was not good news…my dear beautiful niece aged 21 had passed away in her sleep…
    My niece was laid to rest, yesterday… there have been days before then, that I thought this is not the best time to die, to leave loved ones, to leave a hole so big in people’s hearts and lives.. ( to be fair, when is?).. and yet, here we are, at this Christmastime, expectant and full of hope for Jesus, who was knit perfectly together in sweet dear Mary’s womb, would come, bringing HOPE and fill whatever our big hole may be or look like…
    This is a time of HOPE…and if there ever was a time to hold out to and for HOPE, this is it…… Immanuel… God with us.
    Immanuel…God with us…those of us left here, those of us grieving, those of us confused, those of us lonely from the loss of a dear daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend…We need to hear…
    Immanuel….God with us…

    Immanuel… God with us…

    God with us… Amen.

    I’ve missed you Sisters…I’ve been here, just not posted..but I pray you have all been well and that you have known the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…
    May He turn His face to shine on you today in all you do…whatever your day looks like…
    Hugs and love always..xxx

    • Pam

      So sorry for your loss, dear Tina. I will be praying for you and your family. God is with us – God is near. Sending you much love.

    • CJ

      Praying for you sweet one

    • Kelly R Smith

      I am so sorry for your loss, Tina. Praying hope and peace for you and your family today.

    • Emily

      Lifting you and your family up in prayer this morning, Tina. God will give you all that you need for today–strength, peace, hope, courage, and love. Praying also that you will be a shining light during this darkest hour.

    • Kellie

      Sweet Tina, I am so so sorry to learn of your loss. While I agree that there’s never a good time to lose a loved one, I am comforted by this quote that I hope ministers to your heart as well: “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.”–AW Tozer. Prayers for your heart during this incredibly sad time, but also prayers that you would be able to stand firm in the hope of Christ and the knowledge that he is good and he loves you and your family members so dearly. Thank you for commenting on these posts and sharing your insight–you continually bless me, and I just wish I could give you a hug from across the pond!! Lots of love from Washington DC this morning. ❤️

    • Emily

      So sorry to hear, Tina! Praying for you and your family. ❤

    • churchmouse

      Oh Tina. I’m so sorry for your loss. So thankful that in your sorrow you hold on to the only Hope any of us has. Jesus. Reaching out to you with hugs and prayers for comfort and strength for you and your family.

    • Jessica Love

      Very sorry for your loss, Tina.

    • Mary

      So sorry for your loss Tina. Prayers, love, and hugs for you.

    • She Reads Truth

      Oh, Tina. I have no “right” words to say other than cries to Jesus on your behalf. Lord, have mercy. Lord, be near to my dear friend Tina and her sweet family during this terrible, heart-wrenching time. Lord, be their wholeness in their loss. They are walking in darkness; point them to your great light.

      Aching deeply and hoping greatly with you, sister. Keeping you close in my prayers and asking God to hold you close in His peace.

      xoxo, Kaitlin

    • Sarah_Joy

      God with us. May you cling to your God who will never leave you or forsake you as you grieve.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      Sweet, sweet Tina, my heart aches for you and your dear family. Lifting you all up in prayer this morning. May you feel our Father’s arm wrap around you and comfort you <3 Love and prayers, dear one! ~Heather

    • ~ B ~

      T, your family continues to endure. I do not have adequate words for you in this but please know that I will be prayerful over you, over your entire family. That God’s loving prescence is felt in the midst of this sadness and that beloved memories bring peace. I am so sorry for the loss of your young niece and will keep your season close to my heart. Sending love your way! ~ B

    • Skigranny1

      Praying in agreement with all SRT sisters. So much already well said. Such sad news, yet God of the universe is still in control and He can bring peace and comfort to all of your hurting hearts.

    • Brianna

      Lifting you and your family up in prayer right now. May God’s peace and comfort be with y’all in the coming days. He is our Hope.

    • Laura Warden

      Praying for you and your family! Death has such an earthly sting, but what great joy and hope we have that it is the beginning of eternity with out Heavenly Father. I pray for comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding as you navigate this season.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Praying for you and your family. May God give you all comfort and may He bring beauty from these ashes. Sending love from Arizona

    • Mamajonk

      Tina you are missed when you go silent. I hope you know how loved you are. I am heartbroken for you and your family at the loss of your niece. Will be praying the Lord covers you all in a blanket of peace and comfort in the days ahead.

    • Lana

      Oh Tina! I am so sorry this has happened to you and your family. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. I pray that God wraps you in his warm arms of love and peace. I pray he shares his wisdom with you. I pray his grace settles on your family like sweet morning dew. And I pray our Lord Jesus will impregnate you with hope and understanding. If it helps, have you tried reading the SRT devotional called Mourning and Dancing? You might have read it already. But as I go through a time of loss (breakup), rereading it has brought me so much comfort. I read the Advent study in the morning and the Mourning and Dancing study in the evening. I cry and let it out, but the scriptures in that devotional feel like a warm balm on my heart. It feels like God is giving me a hug. If you haven’t don’t so and feel inclined, please try reading it. I hope it brings you as much comforts as it has brought me. Love you, sweet Tina! Thank you for all of your comments. You have been such a blessing in my life.

    • Tricia Cavanaugh

      Prayers and love for you and your family from across the waters, Tina. May God’s peace rest upon you and yours. Xoxo

  • Alice Carroll

    The angel brought good news of great joy for all the people and Mary got to see God at work up close. However, that came at a price – always being gossiped about, and seeing her son die on a cross. Trusting God may be really hard, even while it is amazing.

    • Zoe

      I was thinking about this, too. God’s ways are so beyond our human understanding. And if an angel came to me and told me I was favored by God and then told me I’d be humiliated and possibly ruined by an unplanned pregnancy I would doubt how “favored” I was for God to do such a thing!!! Mary fills me with such hope because of her faith and her YES. I pray for the same humility for myself and for the SRT community

    • Johanne Smith

      That’s so True Alice. God’s will can be hard and amazing all at once

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