Why you are not forgotten comes down to two simple words: Even there. Let me explain. Some of us enjoyed a fa-la-la-la-la Christmas season. Others of us not so much. Or some of us landed somewhere in between. If you had an over-the-top Hallmark Christmas, you may want to stop reading. Or, better yet, read on and see how you can better relate to those who may have pushed, pulled, and dragged themselves through the holidays.
In recent days, I’ve talked with a number of you who are truly struggling. Several of you miss loved ones terribly who have passed. Many of you are dealing with relentless illness and pain. At least one of you just celebrated your wedding anniversary with your spouse who is now in a memory care unit. A number of you are grieving your grown kids shutting the door on your communication and withholding the grandkids from seeing you. Ugh. My heart hurts. Sighhhhh.
Is There Any Hope?
Is there any hope in all this crud of life? Yes. Stay with me. You may be familiar with the Luke 2 story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. But have you ever really noticed the simple words “while they were there” in verse 6? “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.” Full-term pregnant Mary likely half-walked and half-rode a donkey or similar burden-bearing animal roughly ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to obey ruler Caesar Augustus’ command to return to one’s place of birth to be counted and taxed.
Imagine that distressing journey for the young Mary carrying the Messiah. The dusty, gritty air. The animal’s methodical, rolling gait. Imagine her concerns that she might give birth at any minute, away from the familiarity and safety of home. It was no surprise to God that baby Jesus would arrive on Earth while Mary and Joseph “were there.” Cocooned in a stinky animal stall giving birth. No plush mom-n-baby accommodations with warm blankets, epidurals, and a full medical team.
A Boost from Priscilla
Let’s pick up the story from the perspective of author Priscilla Shirer:
We only know from the biblical record that uncomfortable and undesirable circumstances had put her there displaced, and yet perfectly placed all at once. Do not be discouraged today if you, too, are there—in a loveless marriage, at an underwhelming job, in a difficult ministry, in an uncomfortable town, discarded from that long-term friendship or what you hoped to be a lifetime relationship. Even there God can do miraculous things in you, and through you . . . . He can align this timing and placement with His sovereign and preplanned purposes.
He can stun you in hindsight when you discover the careful orchestration of events in your life. What He intends to accomplish—the thing that most bears the fingerprints of His Spirit—cannot be thwarted
Rest. Trust. He has not forgotten you. Not then, not now. Not here, not there.
God’s Fingerprints On Your Life
The fingerprints of God were all over Mary’s arduous journey to Bethlehem and her unconventional childbirth. Dare I say that God’s fingerprints are lightly leaving traces of His mysterious work in your life right now? Yes, even there. Even there in this emotionally tough holiday season. In those heart-searing relationships. Within that frustrating job. In the middle of your illness. Even there in wrapping up a year that did not meet your desired outcome.
“Rest. Trust. He has not forgotten you. Not then, not now. Not here, not there.” Not even there as this year fades and the fresh hope of 2019 peeks over the horizon.
P.S. After writing this blog yesterday, I learned that a local family I know lost their 17-year-old daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin in a car-semi truck accident. Although it may not feel like it at the moment, even there . . . God has not forgotten this grieving family.
Excerpt taken from Awaken, Priscilla Shirer (B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn, 2017), p. 100.