Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dread on the night before Christmas

Christmas celebrates the most miraculous and wonderful birth in the history of the world: the birth of the Son of God by a virgin, herself miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. Inasmuch as all things were made for this Godman, Jesus Christ (Col 1.16), consequently the birth of Christ is the pinnacle and fulfillment of the purpose of the entire universe. Now, as Christ is born, the inheritor of the entire earth has come into life, so small and vulnerable and weak in comparison to the totality of existence which is rightly his. 

Yet the scene itself was probably not particularly grand and impressive. A young girl giving birth -- always a nasty scene -- in a manger, surrounded by animals and her fiance. She was certainly scared, as any woman would be in the pangs of childbirth. How could all of this have happened? Who am I that such incredible miracles should take place in my life? Perhaps these are the thoughts that went through Mary's head on the night she delivered. 

But imagine further what she might have been thinking and feeling on the night before. She has to travel to Bethlehem, and she knows she is near to childbirth. Probably she felt early contractions and worried about going into labor unexpectedly on the road. With all the signs and miraculous occurrences that had taken place, in light of the message she had heard about the future of her child, she certainly worried whether he or she might not die in delivery.

The night before the birth of the Savior of the world may well have been an experience of dread for Mary. Yet here we learn an important lesson about God's providence: God can accomplish even the most amazing miracles in the humblest of circumstances, and even in moments in which we feel dread and angst. The way we feel about things is clearly not always the way God feels about things; and our sense that all control has been lost is perhaps true for us, but an illusion in general. There is no way that God could lose control of the world, God who can do all things, and ... no purpose of [his] can be thwarted (Job 42.2).

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