Tragedy is an inescapable part of life. It hits us broadside when we least expect it—an accident, diagnosis, natural disaster, health epidemic, or a scandal. Tragedy is never a welcome visitor. Tragedy creates turmoil. We wonder what went wrong, what we could have done differently, how it could have been prevented. The issue isn’t whether or not we or others deserve to suffer. We may or may not have done things that contribute to our pain. Deserved or underserved, pain is pain, loss is loss, and a tragedy hurts just as bad. Ultimately, explanations, blame, or guilt can’t roll back the clock. What’s done is done and our pain is all too real. What we find in the second question of Advent is not a recipe for avoiding tragedy, but a way of converting it—or allowing God to convert it—into goodness.
(Adapted from Five Questions of Christmas, pp. 40-41)
Mary was an ordinary girl. She wasn’t wealthy and nothing distinguished her from other peasant girls of her time. Until the angel showed up, nothing about Mary’s life was worthy of history’s attention. That’s the point. She was an ordinary young woman getting ready for her wedding. Mary’s response to the angel’s pronouncement is remarkable! Like most people facing something unexpected and potentially tragic, Mary asked, “How can this be?” In Mary’s time and culture, being pregnant and unmarried was more than tragic; it was potentially a death sentence. An unexplainable pregnancy threatened Mary’s impending marriage, her physical safety, and her family’s reputation.
The angel’s message may have thrown Mary’s life into turmoil but God was with her the whole time. Mary was never truly alone and neither are we. God was with her. At the very heart of the Christmas stories is Emmanuel, God with us.
22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
(Adapted from Five Questions of Christmas, pp. 41-43, 46)
What life changing event for you brought you closer to God?
Who did he use to bring you comfort and remind you that He was near?
How can you bring glory to God this week?