Several years ago-26 to be exact- I spent Christmas in the hospital. I wasn’t sick, I was pregnant and trying to stay that way. From the early days of my little beans existence, I had been faced with one challenge after another. Every year is a time of reflection for those days spent, mostly alone, in the hospital. I missed Christmas party’s, kids concerts (from my other children) and treasured moments that I only heard relayed to me from my husband, who was managing the household for both of us. End of story, although born very early, our son is doing well, married and living his best life.
But what about the memories? What about the moments that come to mind this time of year? To be honest, they are mixed bag. Even though everything worked out, there were some hard times during those weeks of waiting. Emotional and physical pain, loneliness and frustration were partners with me for 5 long weeks. Daily I witnessed miracles and experienced God’s intervention on several occasions, but as I look back, there is a sadness that tries to invade the season and I have to make a choice to surrender it to Jesus.
“Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told. But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.”
Luke 2:17-19 (TPT)
Many of us have walked through glorious seasons, occasions where we saw God move in powerful ways and at the same time felt the cost. There are circumstances that may have pulled on us in ways that we might even have a hard time articulating what it all meant. Words fail because the moments reside in our heart.
I believe Mary had a similar understanding to her circumstances. She heard the testimony of the shepherds and literally walked out the miraculous, but she would tuck all those memories and reflect on the purpose of it all. Like us, she may have grappled with the tension of fulfillment and cost. In fact, the Greek word for pondermeans to “dispute mentally”. So we may assume that Mary talked to herself concerning her situation.
Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph presented Him in the temple. A man named Simeon, who had been waiting for the Messiah to be born, cradled baby Jesus and prophesied concerning His purpose. Simeon also spoke to Mary saying;
“A painful sword will one day pierce your inner being, for your child will be rejected by many in Israel. And the destiny of your child is this: he will be laid down as a miracle sign for the downfall and resurrection of many in Israel. Many will oppose this sign, but it will expose to all the innermost thoughts of their hearts before God.” Luke 2:34-35 (TPT)
For Mary, beholding the miraculous also meant witnessing the anguish of promise fulfilled. Although Mary and Joseph experienced amazing miracles, the wonder wasn’t lost on the fact that Jesus would experience opposition. Life is complicated like that. One minute we’re celebrating the best that life can bring and the next moment, we might be holding back tears reflecting back on a past season. Either way, God was present in both circumstances. His presence was guiding, healing, teaching and in time, restoring. We may wrestle with reminders of the past, but our peace is in the testimony of today. Much like the shepherds, our reciting of God’s glory and goodness is an agreement with His purpose. It may not be tied up with a pretty bow, but it is bound together in the grace of God.