And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
2020 was a year that no one expected, planned for, or wanted. No one planned for mass unemployment, thousands of people dead from a global pandemic, heightened racial tensions, murder hornets, snake infested seafoam, and extreme political polarization.
Looking back at Mary, the year that she became pregnant did not go how she had planned either. In our day, being a single woman who gets pregnant is almost a non-event. In Mary’s day it was highly shameful. She could have been stoned. She most certainly would have become a pariah. Her pregnancy would bring shame not just to her, but to her whole family. It could have cost her a good marriage and economic stability. The announcement was so anxiety-laden for Mary that the angel told her to not fear.
Neither was she planning on a 5-day journey to Bethlehem, where she would deliver her child in less than sanitary conditions.
For Mary, even her pregnancy did not go as planned. Her betrothed did not leave her, her cousin Elizabeth welcomed her with open arms, and as we read the rest of the gospels, her life does not appear to be the shame-filled life one would have expected.
2020 may not be the year anyone planned for or wanted. Some even consider it to be a dumpster fire of a year with no redeeming value. While 2020 has brought about massive pain for many people, no one is left unscarred in some way by this year. We do not yet know what the long-term effects of this year will be. We do not know what God is working out.
Mary’s unplanned pregnancy could have spelled disaster and ruin for her, her family, and her child, yet it became the beginning of the greatest story ever told: The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The One who would save us from our sins. The One who restore our broken relationship with God. The One who will set all things right.
As we celebrate Christmas 2020 in ways many of us find less than ideal, remember Mary. As you reflect on this painful year, remember Mary. What could have been a tragedy in her life God used and turned into a blessing for all creation. As you sit with God, ask Him the tough questions about 2020: What is His plan for this painful year? Where was He during this year? Why did this have to happen? What good will God work out of the pain and tragedy we have suffered? With Mary, let us answer to all God’s responses to our questions: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”