Expectations for Christmas. I’ve certainly had them. Have you? Maybe you hope to give the perfect gift, decorate a beautiful tree, or cook a delicious meal for your family. Maybe you long for your whole family to be together – not just physically, but also united in heart and mind.
The difficult thing about expectations is that when things don’t turn out like we’d hoped – which often happens – we are disappointed. In fact, sometimes our unrealized expectations for Christmas keep us from enjoying the truth and beauty of Christmas.
I was thinking about Mary this morning – that young Jewish girl who gave birth to our Savior. What do you think her expectations were for her life? When we first meet Mary, she was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. She expected to marry Joseph in a happy celebration with all her friends and family gathered around. Then Mary expected to raise a family and live their lives together as a respected couple in their community.
Instead, Mary was an unwed mother who had to endure the unmerited scorn of those friends and family members. To start her married life in scandal. And then to give birth far from home in a stable, where she then had to lay her newborn Son in an animal feeding trough.
God’s Plans were Bigger than Mary’s Expectations
Not exactly what she had expected. But God had different plans for Mary. She would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God. Then a few decades later she would endure the overwhelming grief of watching her son die a brutal, criminal’s death. No, God’s path for Mary would not be easy. But it would be worth it. For this unexpected son would be our Savior and our King!
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33, NIV
Talk about a change of plans. But I love Mary’s example for us. When the angel Gabriel told her of God’s plans, Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:37).
Joseph also struggled with unmet expectations. But the angel also Gabriel helped him see God’s bigger picture:
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21, NIV
God’s plans for us are often different from what we expect. And praise God they are! His plans are always infinitely better. Even if we don’t understand what He’s doing at the time. So, this Christmas – and every day – let’s hold our plans loosely and give God room to do what only He can do.
What are a few of your expectations for Christmas?
Other Christmas themed posts you might like:
- “How Well Do You Know the Real Christmas Story?”
- “Four Christmas Gifts from Jesus to You”
- “The Real Meaning of Christmas”