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Christmas Faith Is Never Easy

Devotional Text: Luke 1:38

We admire Mary’s astonishing commitment when she responds to Gabriel’s announcement: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” In Mary we have no shadow of doubt, no wrestling with angels, no dark night of the soul. God calls, she answers, and she lived happily ever after, right? Yeah, right!

In fact, I only noticed recently that there’s this second part of v. 38 that no one ever talks about: “Then the angel departed from her.” This is the last time that Mary would ever see an angel. The shepherds see angels on Christmas night, and they tell Mary and Joseph about it. But Mary will have no more miraculous experiences—at least until Jesus turns water into wine in John 2.

Instead, when the angel departs, Mary is left alone with her thoughts; left alone to contemplate what will at times be the difficult and dark journey ahead of her—a journey that, unfortunately, she will mostly have to take alone. Mary was destined to experience a lot of pain as part of her journey of faith.

And the pain was going to start right away—for instance, when she had to have that difficult conversation with her fiancé: “I’m pregnant, Joseph. But let me explain!” And when Joseph was deciding to break up with her (Matthew 1:19), there were no angels around to comfort her, to reassure her, to remind her that she’s playing an important role in God’s saving plan. No… She must have felt very alone.

Do you think that was easy? Not at all. But a Christmas kind of faith is never easy.

We often think that Christian faith should make our life easier. Does the Christmas story change that perception? How can Mary’s faith encourage you when you’re in the midst of a crisis or trial?

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