Believing God Can Do the Impossible in 2020
You’ve heard it all before. It’s been beaten like a dead horse. 2020 has brought confusion, disappointment, isolation, pain, loss, and grief of every size and shape. Nations left wondering when the effects of COVID-19 will ever stop. Government leaders under fire for what they do or don’t do. Communities divided over just about everything. Families second-guessing every small decision. It doesn’t seem to stop. It is all just crazy.
As I was reading an Advent devotional. I was reminded to wonder at the birth of Christ. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
I so often read the Christmas story and forget to think about the actual circumstances in which Jesus was born. A virgin shall conceive. God comes to earth. God comes to earth as a baby. God incarnate is born in a dirty stable. Literally none of that makes sense. It is all just crazy.
Yet it happened.
As I think about what Mary might have felt in the weeks leading up to the birth of Jesus, I wonder if she felt like many of us do in 2020. God has promised her great things. He even sent an angel to tell her the good news that she, “will conceive in her womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”(Luke 1:31-33).
But until Jesus arrived that Christmas day, Mary was living in a state of already but not-yet. God has already made her a promise, but Jesus had not yet been born.
In that period of waiting, Mary was surely living under enormous judgment. She was young. She was not married. And she was mysteriously pregnant. Her life had become a scandal, suddenly throwing her on the outskirts of society. Joseph, too, was likely feeling lonely. He had stood by a young woman whom his community had told him he could dismiss. They were living isolated lives that didn’t make sense and felt unbearable. Yet they chose to obediently believe what God had told them to do.
How is God at work in 2020? Maybe it doesn’t even seem to make sense to you that God could be at work in 2020. But one thing the Bible teaches us is that God works in mysterious ways that are far beyond our thinking. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ birth were not without pain, isolation and confusion. Jesus’ time on earth even did not make sense to many Jewish leaders who could not imagine a Messiah would come in the manner he did. Jesus’ death on the cross must have felt crushing to the disciples. A moment, three days, of wondering how did this go so wrong?
Haven’t we said that a million times in 2020? How did (Fill in the blank) go so wrong?
Yet our God is a God who does the unimaginable. Taking moment to study the stable that Christmas day in Bethlehem reminds us of this.
God takes that which doesn’t make sense, and even seems impossible, and uses it for His glory and our good. As we teach our children about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and our Savior’s humble birth in a stable, let us not forget that these were real people and real events. Real people who like many of us were choosing to believe God was going to do what He said He would do despite very real circumstances that seemed entirely overwhelming. Real people whom God chose to use in order to do the most impossible thing of all: save His people from their sins through Jesus Christ.
As we close out a year that seems like none other, let us remember that nothing is impossible for our God. He is a God who takes what doesn’t make sense to us, that which is even painful and isolating for us, and uses it for good. May God graciously give us eyes to see Him at work, especially in a year like 2020.