The Christmas lights twinkled around the room as I plopped down on the futon across from my friend. Her quivering face told the unfolding story—her best friend was moving away. My mind flashed back to the night before, wrapping arms around another friend whose sobs begged for nothing more than to have a whole heart again. I refocused on the present and offered my friend the few words of encouragement I could muster. I didn’t have answers.
A lot of me wanted to know why God allowed such heartbreak and hardship—why we have to experience brokenness while the rest of the world shouts, “May your days be MERRY and BRIGHT!!!” Why can’t we just have one season where everything is perfect?
Society ignores the broken, the hopeless, and the poor, simultaneously isolating all those who are struggling and searching. The world seems to hold no mercy for the lost. But a shattered heart doesn’t just mend itself in a day, it requires a whole season of change.
When I thought of my friends, I thought about the bad timing of their situations. Why did all this change and hurt have to happen NOW—right before Christmas? But then I realized, there is no better timing.
Flash back 2000 years. Mary was far along in her unmentionable pregnancy with Joseph by her side. The shame she felt had grown now that everyone knows. But she had been chosen. God picked her to carry the very Son of God.
The time of the census grew close, and she dreaded the unknown on the trip to Bethlehem. Why must we travel now? Why must I be pregnant now? She was hurting and confused. Yet, she pushed through the pain. Not for one day or one week, but for as long as it took for God to work. Mary was in a season of change.
Mary didn’t return from Bethlehem the same as when she had embarked. No, God had completely changed the trajectory of her future—she had a son! Of course it was scary. It created a lot of unknowns. Traveling with a newborn isn’t easy. But what resulted from this change in Mary’s life was SO much better than she could have ever imagined—mankind now had a chance at reconciliation with the Father.
So what exactly does this mean for us?
Now it’s our season of change—it’s Christmastime! Whether you are going through heartbreak, physical pain, or a big move, these changes are magnificently orchestrated by our Sovereign Savior and King. Yes, we still don’t understand WHY these things have to happen or why God allows the pain. But we don’t always have to understand. All I know is that the Jesus who was born in that unassuming manger all those years ago is the same One who will bring you through the hardships of life.
This Christmas, don’t wallow in the imperfections, mishaps, and disappointments. Instead, fully recognize that God has changes He wants you to make. There are challenges we will each have to face. But just like Mary, we will come away from the hardships with a greater understanding of God, His power, and His healing. Only then will we fully comprehend the beauty that is Emmanuel, God with us, the Hope of glory.