You’ve seen it before. Scenic small town. Cute single girl. Equally cute single guy. Also, it’s December. And it’s snowing. These are the makings of a highly successful Hallmark Christmas movie. A large majority of women in America live for these predictable plotlines this time of year.
But maybe Hallmark movies aren’t your thing. Maybe you prefer Christmas lights. Hot cocoa. A warm fire. A Bing Crosby Christmas ballad. The point is, we are all searching for comfort in this season.
Longing for More
Starting around the end of November it is undeniable, this need we have for nostalgia and warmth. Life is hard. Especially after the year (or maybe two) that we’ve had. We’ve lost so much––so many people we love, the rhythms we were used to, and the sense of normalcy we existed in without even realizing it.
And I hate to the bearer of bad news here, but the comfort we are seeking–– whether through movies or memories or scents or warmth––can’t be found in a cup of cocoa or beside a roaring fire. Because those things are made of the same stuff we are. They are of this world. The comfort we are really seeking isn’t of this world; it’s divine. If the world we exist in now has taught us nothing else, it has made it abundantly clear that this world will not and cannot satisfy us. Our souls are longing for something more.
The “More” that We Seek
But if I must bear bad news then I get the joy of offering the best news. While this world cannot and will not ever satisfy the deepest longings of our soul, there is One who can. And this One can be found in Luke 1, when Mary, an engaged but unmarried virgin finds herself confronted with a most unusual reality––she is pregnant, but not with the child of Joseph, her betrothed. Rather, through miraculous conception she is carrying the Son of God. (This is basically the antithesis to every Hallmark movie ever made). But let’s consider Mary’s response to this most unusual situation, which is captured in her song of praise, known as the Magnificat:
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”Luke 1:46-55
Faced with an absurd, seemingly ridiculous reality, Mary’s response is praise. If this current situation isn’t from God, it makes no sense.
In this season, let’s be open to the magic around us. I’m not talking about the Santa-reindeer kind of magic. I mean the virgin-birth,-Son-of-God- arriving-in-a-manger-as-the-fulfillment-of-a-promise-to-rescue-the-world kind of magic. And if that kind of divinity doesn’t wrench us from the stupor of our daily lives, then I’m not sure what will.
What a mighty God! Who uses a virgin to birth the Savior. Who sends our King into the world in a manger. May we be people who grasp the enormity of this upside-down-out-of-this-world reality.
The “More” We Can Share
This Christmas season, I’d encourage to you consider in awe and wonder this almost unbelievable story. And then consider why God might have chosen to do things this way. The lyrics of a song I was introduced to last year echo in my heart:
“We’ve done another trip around the sun
How we wish it would’ve been a better one
Here we are, painfully aware
That it’s hard to hope, easy to despair
As this year closes and we begin again
Here’s something to take comfort in
Gloria, gloria, God has come to understand us.”“Gloria, Gloria” by Jess Ray and Langdon
I wonder, somehow, if God chose to use Mary, the most unlikely of mothers, to birth his Son as a reminder that He truly has come to understand us regular people. That the Creator, who is far beyond even our farthest imagination, through the birth of Christ, has come into our world to understand our humanity. To be able to comfort our human hearts in all our pain. Because ultimately, our world cannot comfort us––through it we have experienced too much pain. The true comfort we are seeking can only come from outside of this world. From the Messiah, born of a virgin, in a Manger in Bethlehem.
Where are you seeking comfort this holiday season?
How does the reality of God coming to earth through Jesus change the comfort you are seeking?
What evidence of God’s divinity do you see in your life’s story? How does that encourage you?