February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”—Luke 2:6–7 (CSB)
Birth plans are no joke these days! I remember having to submit one to my doctor. Mine was short and sweet, but I’ve heard of others being long and complicated. You can hire a doula, labor in the hospital, give birth in the comfort of your own home, or in a water tub. You can be medicated or not. You can give birth naturally or head to the OR and have a C-section. You can have a playlist of songs to motivate you, wear whatever you feel most comfortable in, and even document every minute of this joyous adventure.
A lot about giving birth is unpredictable and, as much as we prepare for the day, plans can still take some major detours changing everything we dreamed and hoped for. Some details can be planned ahead such as the hospital. In fact, you have to register months in advance. I had a midwife, who was my sister-in-law’s best friend, and she made sure to be present for both births. And in some ways, with the uncertainty of how birth will turn out, knowing some of these plans relieved my anxiety over the labor itself. My firstborn son ended up being induced after he went past the due date and my daughter came two weeks early. As much as we can plan, the reality is all births are different!
Our passage today says “there was no guest room available.” Imagine showing up to the hospital during active labor to be told there is no room available! All we know is this: Mary gave birth and she laid the Son of God down in a manger. The Bible doesn’t tell us Mary’s plan or if she even had one; it only tells us what happened. To be honest, if she had a plan, I’m curious to know what it was! But some of us mamas can relate with Mary and the fact that we truly have no control over the circumstances surrounding birth . . . even when bringing the Son of God into this world! She was in total surrender from the moment the angel visited her to give her the news of Jesus and then subsequently having to face being the talk of her town.
Mary could have focused on how inconvenient and messy all of it was. She was only engaged to Joseph when she became pregnant—perhaps she wasn’t ready to be a mother yet. Then a census forces Joseph to travel 80 miles from Nazareth to his native Bethlehem to register himself, a decree mandated by the Roman Emperor. It’s believed that Mary didn’t have to travel with Joseph, but she did anyway to get away from Nazareth since her pregnancy was a controversial one. When they embarked on this journey, she wasn’t close to giving birth. But when the day finally came, we only know this one fact: The son of God was born in a random, dirty cave, not in a nice suite in a palace as we would expect kings to be born in or even a modest, comfortable inn, and he was laid down in a manger. It doesn’t say if she had assistance or a midwife, and we certainly know she had no mentioned support present except Joseph. Did he know what to do or what to expect?
One thing we do know is this: “But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:19 CSB).
Friends, when we’re in a situation and our plans don’t turn out the way we wanted or expected, we must trust our God is in control and sees it all. He sees our struggles, our tears, and our frustrations as well as our joy, elation, and anticipation in the midst of the season we find ourselves in. In Mary’s case, not only did she trust but she treasured this moment and her heart was full of gratitude despite her circumstances. Gratitude must have been her secret birth plan after all!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Pause: Read Luke 2 in its entirety and notice the reaction surrounding this event. Some were quiet and contemplative, others were praising loudly and proudly. What is your reaction to this story?
Practice: Research has shown that consciously practicing gratitude can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Get in the habit of writing one thing you’re grateful for every day and meditate on it.
Pray: Father, give me a heart like Mary’s. Thank You for who You are, and thank You for the gift of Your Son. I don’t want to get stuck in the messiness life can often bring. Help me to be appreciative of all the blessings You’ve provided and provide for me. I’m sorry for the times I don’t express my gratitude and instead complain about my circumstances. I want to fully trust and surrender to Your will and what You have planned for me. Thank You Jesus for coming into this world with humility and with the purpose to save us. Amen.
Alessandra (Ally) Velsor has been part of the Calvary Chapel staff since 2009. Because her family owned various restaurants growing up, she determined to do something else and got a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication. But… never say never…
She served in The Grill at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for 14 years as a server, restaurant manager, and catering manager. She’s currently serving as the cafe supervisor in the Plantation campus. She met her husband, Kenny, working at The Grill and married him in 2011. They have two amazing children Joshua and Sunny.