Imagine our lives plotted on a line graph with the x and y-axis labelled time and unforeseen events respectively. Without a doubt, the curve goes up and down across our lifetimes. But there is also this time when the curve gradually falls and plateaus.
A stage of comfort, self-reliance, and minimal growth. A time when we can seemingly predict what will happen next, a beaming self-confidence as we master skills, and satisfaction the present materialism brings us.
For example, you have been at your job for a few years now; you are no longer the newest, youngest staff. You can now do projects with minimal assistance and no longer need to complete them outside of work hours. You’re ready for a new challenge, but why attempt something new when you’ve finally figured out a work-life balance.
Or perhaps you’ve moved into the house you can call your own; after all these years of saving and navigating the housing market. A dream is fulfilled as you begin to implement the design ideas you’ve had since a child.
What about after years in remission or stability in a medical condition? You can finally begin to breathe and believe the shadow of complications will no longer follow you. You’ve been building strength and health to do the things you never thought you could do.
Out of the blue, it turns out the project you completed wasn’t accepted by your manager. Furthermore, your colleagues are blaming you, and guilt overwhelms your mind as you restart the project.
This past weekend you went shopping and arranged the furniture in your new home. But the next day, there is torrential rain causing flooding, and all your carpet and furniture are ruined.
Maybe it’s not your health at risk this time, but your son is diagnosed with cancer after not being quite right for a few months. Or your friend who can no longer live independently because of new symptoms and is awaiting a diagnosis.
One circumstance we can all relate to is the recent outbreak of the delta variant in the community resulting in lockdown again after months of relative freedom. Just when you began to think international travel would be a possibility within reach.
You didn’t see it coming. You had hoped you weren’t going to be the one affected. At least not right now. Another setback to your goals and dreams.
‘Why me?’ you ask.
What about Mary?
A teenage girl preparing for marriage, dreaming of the life she would have with her soon-to-be husband, the house they would build, names for their children, and being able to serve God together.
An angel shows up in front of her and tells her she will be pregnant before the wedding. I can imagine Mary having similar thoughts and questions as us.
‘How will this be?’
This was Mary’s initial reaction to the dramatic situation. She had two choices in front of her, to humbly accept this or to refuse and run away. With an understanding that she could be barred from society without friends, family, and a husband, she still willingly accepted this gift and the presence of God to enter her.
Mary believed in the plans and purposes God has. She chose to praise God in unsettling times. She acknowledged God as her Saviour, his attentiveness to her and all the great things he has done before.
I believe Mary’s responses are for us to learn and practice.
When we face situations we do not want to face, and when our minds are overwhelmed with what the future will look like, find your foundation in the presence of God. Through Mary’s obedience, Jesus’ birth brings us unfathomable hope and life, overriding any loss in comfort, grief, and possessions.
Even more, when it seems like everything is falling apart, breathe and believe God brings restoration in new and beautiful ways. And when you have realised this, like Mary, treasure these things and ponder them often.
Stephanie enjoys simple living, admiring nature’s beauty and intricacy, and playing the piano. She is particularly passionate about empowering the vulnerable. Writing is her way of processing thoughts and feelings to understand herself, God and the world in a deeper and more meaningful way.