Mary felt privileged, after all she was giving birth to the son on God. She had wondered what it would be like and how God would make the occasion special but going into labour where the animals were kept probably wasn’t what she had imagined.
Did Mary feel disappointed with God? If not disappointed, she may have been confused. What do you mean that the all-powerful God can’t even provide a comfortable room with gas and air?
We do need to remember that Mary was poor and so perhaps living in these kind of conditions was closer to her normality that we would think. Having said that though, with all we (and God) know about hygiene, it is hard to think of a much worse place to give birth.
God could have provided more comfort and cleanliness but he chose not to. God chose for his son to be born in poverty in less that the best of circumstances and this tells us a lot about who God is. He wants to really identify with us, he chose to become human rather than just appearing as a human. He wants all of us to be able to relate to him and the poverty he was born into makes it possible for ordinary people to identify with him. He wants to show that he could live a life that didn’t involve perfect circumstances and that he could live it well nevertheless.
Mary and Joseph had received promises about who the baby would be. Immanuel means God with us, Jesus means saviour, they knew he was the Messiah, the son of the most high God. Did those promises feel far away when Mary gave birth in less than ideal circumstances?
God has given us all promises. He loves us, he will forgive us, he wants us to experience a fulfilled life etc but those promises can feel distant when life is tough and when things aren’t going according to our plan.
Did Mary & Joseph feel let down? Whether they did or not, everything happened according to God’s plan.
Do you feel let down by God? Whether we do or not, will we call on God to show us the way forward? When things are difficult it doesn’t mean that we have turned from God’s will but we do need God to lead us forward. When everything feels like it’s falling apart will we cling to God’s promises? Will we cry out to God and invite him to speak, guide and to act in power?
If there was any doubt for Mary and Joseph, it would have been shattered by the shepherds turning up telling of the angelic choir that announced the arrival of the Messiah. We all need other people to help keep us on track. As you pray for someone today, ask God to give you something encouraging to share with them that is from him.
The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus may not have looked or felt right but God was at work in exactly the way he had planned. Mary and Joseph trusted God and I hope we will as well.