Mary the mother of Christ is easily the most significant woman in the span of Scripture, and arguably the most well-known female in all of history. There are many notable, differing views about the historical Mary, ranging from the Immaculate Conception (that Mary was conceived and born without the stain of original sin) to the Assumption (that Mary was taken bodily into Heaven), and while the Catholic Church (and the Assemblies of God, for that matter, which I am a minister through) makes clear that Mary herself is not divine and that prayers are not answered by her, it is unassailable to say that she plays an important role in many Christian doctrines.
Recently I had an interaction with a woman who had just given birth to her first child. She readily confesses that she was extremely anxious and that her emotions were running about a million miles an hour. Strangely enough, she recalls that she planned her first delivery almost in the way that she planned her wedding: everything had to be just so, all the right people had to be present, her favorite doctor had to deliver, only the perfect hospital would do, and so on. It wasn’t too long before I started thinking about how Mary handled her pregnancy and delivery.
While being pregnant with God’s Son certainly wasn’t expected, I’m sure Mary still had that excited glow and anxiety about being a first-time mom. Surely God had great things in store for both Mary and her Son.
But then a wrench was thrown into the plans. Mary and her fiance Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. Mary’s very human hopes probably began to fizzle: her mother wouldn’t be able to be present for the birth and none of her friends would be present. Then another wrench was thrown – Mary wouldn’t even be able to deliver her Baby in a warm bed, in the privacy of a room. She was forced to have her Baby on the wet, hard, earthy ground with the smell of manure abounding, while anyone would happened to be walking past could simply look in.
Many first-time moms would have been incredibly upset, alarmed, and fearful of the circumstances. Especially with hormones and emotions being hard to temper during the final few moments of a pregnancy, many moms wouldn’t be able to picture anything worse.
I wonder if Mary doubted the goodness of God.
I mean, she didn’t ask for all this. And wasn’t this Child of hers supposed to be the Messiah? And yet, there she was, laying in a pool of blood next to a donkey with fleas and lice, away from her family and familiar surroundings, seemingly forgotten by God.
Did God ask this of Mary, and then forget to take care of her in the moment when she needed Him the most?
Scripture doesn’t say how Mary approached the situation. In fact, after the birth of Christ, Mary is mentioned surprisingly infrequently throughout the rest of the Gospels. I wonder if Mary ever fully understood why she had to endure that lot.
We know the significance of the coming of Christ, and the importance of His humble entrance into our world. He was forgotten to identify with those who feel forgotten; He was poor to identify with those who are poor. Thousands of years later, it’s easier to see the overarching plan of God in sending Christ to us in such a humble way. But Mary didn’t have our context. She had nothing but to trust.
Friends, as we approach a new year, many of us are excited and making plans for new things. Perhaps others, though, relate more to how Mary may have felt. Where is God? He called me into this season… why don’t I sense Him here with me? Why do I feel alone and forgotten? Is God good?
And what I would encourage everyone in this category to do is to trust God. It may take time before we recognize His hand of mercy in our season, and we may never understand why in our lifetime. In fact, maybe our understanding is irrelevant. But let us lean on our sovereign God and choose to believe in His kindness. For indeed He is the definition of kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, hope, and peace.