Welcome to week two of Experience Christmas, a 19-day devotional series based on the Scriptural narrative and aimed at creating space during a beautiful, but hectic time of year to wonder at the miracle of Christmas. You’re joining us on day six, with music from Eddie Kirkland and North Point Community Church and a devotional about the inevitable hard things of life.
Watch & Listen
All it takes is two little pink lines to change everything for first time parents. Lifestyle. Relationships. Time. Finances. Space. Everything gets rearranged and reprioritized to accommodate this new life, including the capacity of Mom and Dad’s hearts to love, believe, and dream for the future.
Being a parent is wonderful and complicated; a unique life filled with both joys and rewards. It’s also one of the hardest things I try to do every day.
Mary raises that admission to an entirely new level.
We know little about Mary before her encounter with Gabriel, but based on the customs of her day, we can assume that she was young, probably only in her very early teens. Her engagement, whether born from love or necessity, was an expected rite of passage, and her purity during this time was absolutely and unequivocally required. There would be grave consequences for a not-yet-married-but-already-pregnant young woman under Jewish social and cultural laws.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”
Luke 1:30-31 (NIV)
Without a doubt, Mary knows what this assignment could cost her.
This is no simple pregnancy announcement. There’s no jumping-up-and-down-let’s-tell-everybody kind of excitement. She understands Joseph could leave. Her parents could disown her. She knows she could be executed for accepting God’s plan for her life. If she is fortunate enough to survive pregnancy, she knows she will likely be an outcast, unable to worship with her people. This word to Mary is heavy and serious and in the most literal sense, life shattering.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38 (NIV)
Mary accepts her calling and the hard things that will likely follow.
God asks Mary to do an incredibly hard thing, and without the slightest hesitation Mary says yes. Her confidence is amazing and the capacity of her faith almost incomprehensible. I might have asked a few more questions; secured a few more guarantees. Not Mary. She knows the voice of the Lord, and she knows the deepest desire of her heart is to serve Him.
Even if He asks her a very hard thing.
It’s so easy for us to lose touch with the complexity of Mary’s journey because we see the whole story. We know Mary, the esteemed Mother of Jesus, and forget the lonely, difficult, and entirely confusing days she lived to get there. Accepting God’s call made her life incredibly meaningful, but it also made it that much more difficult.
Sometimes God asks us to do hard things, and sometimes He asks us to live through hard things well.
So often we want the stories of our life to be meaningful. We hope that in some way we might inspire others to live their lives well, but oh, to skip the hard things that make it that way. Oh, to avoid the hard parts at any and every cost, and to hurry them away when they are absolutely unavoidable.
A broken family? No, thank you.
A broken body? I’ll pass.
A broken dream? Not for me.
Hard things that we are called to, and hard things we must live through don’t often make sense in the moment we hold them, but I believe they are the fertile soil that brings meaning and influence and depth to our lives when we choose to wear them well.
God has never been intimidated by hard things.
With His help, we don’t have to be either.
- What hard thing is God asking you to do? What hard thing are you being called to live through well?
- How can you respond today to the promptings of the Father?
- In the middle of a hard thing, where can you put your hope for today? Tomorrow?
Pray that God would give you strength to accept the hard things He calls you to, and the hard things you are asked to live through well.
Lord, I am certain there are many reading this post in the middle of their very own hard thing of life. Jesus, bring them comfort and peace as they walk the road You have called them to. Thank you that you never ask us to take on a hard thing without your help. Give them the courage they need to say yes to You, and give them the bravery they need to wear this hard thing well.
For a complete list of devotional posts visit the Experience Christmas series page. Sign up to receive posts directly via email by completing the online subscription form and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #ExperienceChristmasDevotional.