And that was 2015.
Dude, that happened fast! Now we’re here, slap-dab in the middle of the holiday season. There are trees to be trimmed, cookies to be baked and gifts to be bought. And when all of the boxes are unwrapped, lists crossed off and meals devoured, we turn around and the calendar boasts a fresh year with new beginnings.
Yet, we feel anything but fresh. We’re weary, maybe even nervous about the future. Does singing the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne and staying up to watch the ball drop only mask trepidation of the new year? Suddenly the fresh start isn’t all that fresh. The debt, relationship crisis and health issues only make for a new year with the same old fears. The challenges of an upcoming year seem insurmountable.
Maybe the details differ, but the fear was much the same at the familiar nativity scene. Rewind the clock nine months to before Mary’s encounter with Gabriel. The assignment was huge and the future unknown. Sound familiar?
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.
Then the angel told her:
Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David (Luke 1:26-32).
So, Mary was approached by a spiritual being—scary enough— and he said (my paraphrase), “Hey, Mary, ya wanna carry God’s Son around in your belly for the next nine months?” Talk about scary! Put me in Mary’s position, and I might be a bit more than startled. Not only has she just seen an angel, now she’s pregnant. Wait, WHAT?
The conditions weren’t exactly right for this adventure, Gabriel foretold. She was not married. She was a virgin, she was engaged, and she was pregnant. What were people going to say? What were her parents going to say? What was her fiancée going to say? Oh, boy…this wasn’t looking good.
So many questions. Sure, this was new and exciting, the beginning of a new chapter in Mary’s life—in all of humanity for that matter. Yet, Mary was terrified. In fact, the Bible says she was “deeply troubled.”
There is Hope for You
The future may look scary, messy or uncertain. Does that make you feel deeply troubled? The most important words you can read are the ones Gabriel said to Mary, “The Lord is with you.”
No matter what led you to your current circumstance, one thing is for sure—God’s presence. He is near, and He longs to guide you through this trying situation. He wants to hold your hand and protect you.
Those are God’s words to you. Mary was set apart for a specific assignment and so are you. It may seem big—daunting even.
However, there is no problem, no sin, no mess you’ve made (or have found yourself in) that God is not capable of solving, forgiving or cleaning up.
It is a constant struggle in my own life not to jump ahead of God. I try to imagine what the future holds and how I will manage it all. Yet, God hasn’t asked me to run ahead or manage anything. God has asked me to hold His hand. He wants me to walk right beside Him and let Him guide me through the obstacles, the trials and the pains of this life. He wants to demonstrate through me His righteous and His unfailing love.
As you face 2016, it is easy to only see the future as scary. Might I encourage you to look not at the problem but at the Solver? When we turn our eyes on Jesus, the One who is present and able to meet our needs and solve our problems, we discover a love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you (Isaiah 42:6).