Sometimes I think about the story of Mary and Joseph and realize that I forget the reality of what it would have been like. This girl-woman is told by an angel that her whole world is shifting and won’t be what she had thought. She is going to be pregnant with the Savior (which is awesome) but she will have to break that news to her betrothed. And she has no idea what Joseph is going to do when she tells him this crazy story about being pregnant with God’s son. I think I would have questioned my own sanity a few times before confronting the man to whom I am engaged about this. Joseph does what most men would do, and at first tries to end things quietly. She feels the sting of that rejection and the destruction of her dreams. A single mom in those days was not an image of strength and perseverance—it was an image no one wanted.
Then, Joseph comes back after God speaks to him in a dream and tells her he’s going to stand with her. What joy! This man isn’t going to abandon her and maybe God is really going to see her through this crazy thing He’s called her to. Then, there’s the nine months of waiting and wondering what in the world this child is going to be like. It’s weird enough to be pregnant for the first time, much less pregnant with a man who is going to save the whole world and who is God’s son. I can’t imagine the thoughts and emotions coursing through Mary during this waiting period.
This isn’t a time when everything goes exactly as she would have hoped, that’s for sure. Being pregnant with God’s son is already pretty weird, and then there’s the king’s demand to go back to Joseph’s hometown to be counted for the census—while nine months pregnant! So, she rides a donkey into a town she doesn’t know, tired and afraid and wondering what on earth God is doing in all of this. There’s no nice, warm rooms left, so she’s turned into a stable with the animals for the night as she feels the pangs of labor get stronger. Mary didn’t have her mother with her to help her get through labor or know what to expect.
Finally, a baby appears, and Mary sees the fruit of all her expectation, hope and faith in this tiny one. There must have been so many times that she questioned if she had really heard God, if she had dreamed the whole thing up, and how on earth she was going to get through life with what was facing her if that was true. And really, if she had heard the angel correctly, what would it be like for God’s son to save the world after she birthed him? What should she expect?
The years following Jesus’ birth were not peaceful, easy ones either. There was the escape to Egypt after the power-hungry king starting killing all the babies in the land, and the fright of realizing Jesus was left behind at the temple while the rest of the family started for home. And the miracles He started doing, the teaching He gave that was so strange and made her fear what was to come. I wonder how many times she went back to the words of the angel, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Lk 1:37)
Often I skim over the whole story as something that just all happened so easily and without any fear or pain. Yet, Mary was human too and all those emotions must have been present. I think about the unknown that you are living in today—what has God told you that you are terrified about? Or does it feel like He has abandoned you in the midst? What is it, this Christmas season and beyond, that you believe He has called you to and are waiting for the revelation to be born in you? That waiting is very hard. I think in the midst of waiting, we also have to keep going back to the statement of the angel—nothing will be impossible with God. Keep looking to Him even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it seems like you could be crazy for thinking He called you to this. Keep looking to Him for the strength to get through the waiting, the pregnancy period in which He is incubating something until it is ready to be born. He is faithful, and He will bring it to pass.