Of All The Places


She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

- Luke 2:7

I have often wondered what must have gone through Mary’s mind when she first felt those pains of labor.

After all, it wasn’t like she was safely tucked into bed at home with loads of warm blankets and water and her midwife coaching her along.

On that road in the middle of Bethlehem, what must she have felt?

My first reaction probably would’ve been alarm, followed closely with panic and perhaps even a deep sense of being alone. It was just her and Joseph out there in the darkness. They didn’t know anyone, they didn’t have friends, they didn’t have a midwife to help Mary through the birth of her first child, something she had never experienced before.

And while the situation probably wasn’t her ideal situation to begin with, I’m sure she certainly never thought God would leave her to give birth in the middle of the night, on a pile of hay, in a stinky stable, surrounded by barn animals.

I’m almost certain that wasn’t in her plans.

When that innkeeper stared at them shaking his head that they had no more room, I wonder if he felt a twinge of sympathy for the young couple as he directed them to his stable filled with hay and animals, but not anything of comfort for a young woman in labor.

If I had been in Mary’s shoes, I’m sure I would’ve looked at the stable through my pain and questioned, “God, where are You? What are You doing? Isn’t this Your Child? Why have You left us here?”

But Mary couldn’t see the miracle that she was in the middle of. And I can assume the questions she must have asked God in that moment, because sometimes I don’t understand the miracles God places me in the middle of either.

And while we may not understand God’s miracles, they always turn out in the best of ways.

Did it make sense to have the King of Kings born in a stable surrounded by barn animals? Did it make sense to have Mary go through labor without even her mother’s hand to hold? Did it make sense to have God’s Son wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger?

Perhaps not to us. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense to us at all. But in God’s perfect plan and perfect miracle of impossibility, it made more perfect sense beyond any human thoughts.

Maybe at this Christmas what I want to think about most is how impossible it may have felt for Mary to deliver this Child in a dark stable. I want to think about how impossible it seems that the King of the whole world spent His first night in His world sleeping in a manger.

And I want to remember that even when I don’t understand the impossible plans God is piecing together around me, I might be in the middle of a miracle He planned all along.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Reflection

1. Why do you think God may have chosen to allow Jesus to be born in that stable instead of a nice, warm house?

2. What circumstances in your life this Christmas season have you wondering where God is and what He’s up to?

3. How can you take the time this week to remember to trust God, even during the times when it seems He doesn’t make sense to you?

Prayer

God, thank You for sending Your precious Son into this world for me. Thank You for having a perfect plan, even when things don’t make perfect sense. Help me to trust in Your perfect plans this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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