I was watching our Church’s Nativity service last week and it got me thinking about Mary. I wonder how she felt when they finally found that last scrap of available space in the overcrowded Bethlehem? Was she exhausted from the journey; tired and worn out? Did her heart sink when she realised that a manger was the closest thing they were going to find for a crib? Did she look around at the poor, drab surroundings and pray that God would get them out of that place?
I know I have prayed that prayer a lot over the years whenever times get tough:
‘I don’t want to be in this situation
Lord, please fix this for me?
‘God, please get me out of here?
The Bible dosesn’t tell us much about how Mary and Joseph felt that night. It doesn’t tell us if they were scared and tired, or if they were just relived to have made it to Bethlehem.
What the Bible does tell us is that on the night Jesus was born a host of angels appeared in the skies above the fields surrounding Bethlehem. Can you imagine? Angel after angel as far as you can see, figures appearing in a dazzling light. A mighty chorus of voices, singing and shouting, praising God for joy with the wonderful news that Jesus was here! The Messiah had come!
It tells us how the only witnesses to this glorious scene were shepherds on the night watch. It tells us that hearing the news they raced into town and found Mary, Joseph and Jesus and told them of the wonders they had seen.
It tells us of a star that travelled across the sky leading wise men on a long and dangerous journey to seek the King of Kings. It tells us that when they found Jesus they worshipped him and laid extravagant gifts at the feet of the overwhelmed Mary.
God didn’t get Mary and Joseph out of the stable; instead he brought his wonders to them, and when they eventually left that place they took an experience of God’s provision with them and at the end of this story, it tells us that Mary treasured all these things in her heart.
The Nativity shows me that no matter how dark and dingy our circumstances might be, no matter how ignoble the setting; wherever Jesus is, wonderful things happen. Miracles abound when Jesus is present. That is who Jesus is; He is Wonderful! Literally, full of wonders!
Sometimes we pray ‘God get me out of here’ as if we are out of reach of His goodness, but that is never true. If you believe in Jesus, and have put your faith in Him, you carry Him with you, as surely as Mary once carried Him in her arms.
Even if you feel like you are stuck in completely the wrong place, don’t spend all your energy on wishing for a way out. Seek Jesus in it and let Him make it beautiful in its time. Follow Him and even if it is the last place you wanted to be His wonders will find you right where you are!
Jesus turns the darkest of times into beautiful treasure. He turns hardships into victory. Emptiness into inspiration and creativity, mourning into joy!
It is because of Jesus that I still believe in miracles and why I can, with full hope and confidence, wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!