Week 3: Mary – Joy in the waiting
We get good at accepting the little things in life or the hard things that just seem unchangeable.
We trust that they will always be there.
What would happen if we did the same with a really significant thing? What if we didn’t question the goodness of God, no matter the circumstances? But we do, and we are not faithful. It is beyond us to see the bigger picture. We see these broad strokes, in one corner of the canvas, but we cannot see the vision in the Master’s mind – we have to wait.
I was reminded of this when I was holding my little boy the other night. Fourteen months before we brought him home, I had a miscarriage, and this resulted in not a loss of faith, but one that was truly rocked. Time has passed, and my heart is healing, but frequently when I count these four little heads, I feel that aching void. There are still days when I grieve, and I always long to hold that baby someday. But when I look at Nicholas, I get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
I’ll never know why our third baby didn’t make it, but one thing I do know is that we needed Nicholas. He is not just happy; he is joyful. He loves to make people smile and laugh and an inner happiness just radiates from him. Day by day, I’ve watched God use the gift of this tiny boy to bring joy back to my heart and our home.
There are parts of our stories that we wish we could escape; things too painful to mention … experiences beyond our control that send us reeling, and we wait for answers.
Mary experienced that. She had always been faithful, her heart pure, her mind fixed on God. You’d think God would honor that by making her road smooth, and yet He brought about circumstances that would shame her, could cause her to lose her husband, her family, and to be cast aside by those who shared her faith. She could have complained and tried to run away, but when we look at her story, we see a faith that persists and a heart that follows hard – and she praises, in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy, outside of marriage and her control.
Her joy is unspeakable as she first awaits the arrival of His promise, and then only partly realized as she holds that new baby, knowing that eternal joy will only come through great pain. And I think she understood that sometimes He uses the things we are least expecting to form us into His image. She had learned to trust Him in the midst of questions, and knew that sometimes joy is a gift, but often it is a choice — an act of faith.
We are trained from a young age to desire being wanted. Disney does an incredible job of making all little girls want to be princesses, not for the sake of being royalty, but to be desired. Romantic comedies carry these dreams into our adolescence and adulthood, and so often we are chasing not after a person, but fulfillment. It’s as if we’re screaming, “See me. Notice me. Choose me!” And sometimes we are chosen and other times we’re overlooked, and we end up feeling unattractive, unwanted, unseen. There are these deep soul wounds inflicted by the unknowing, and they attach themselves to a spirit hunger that a friend, parent or man was never meant to fill, and we are disillusioned.
We think that once we have a date or a boyfriend or when he finally asks me to marry him … if I can just have kids, if my kids will just obey me, if they would trust me … if I had a best friend, a kindred spirit who just “gets me,” then I will feel loved; I will be complete, but we’re not. We just hunger for more. What’s worse, we can quickly give our love to the wrong thing, the wrong cause, the wrong purpose, and we are challenged again to wait.
During the holidays, we can feel the longing for love more acutely. In fact, there are times when I am surrounded by my husband, children and extended family and can give way to an aching void … times when I forget that my worth, value, and identity come from Him alone.
This season, in those moments I am trying to recenter myself on the fact that so many years ago, love came down. That the season is about love, and not the flawed human sort, but the kind that gives itself up for me, for you … for the world, for all eternity. Throughout scripture, we see Him gently drawing our attention to the kind of love He will send — sends to Bethlehem — is sending again.
When we look at the Song of Solomon we get lost in the romantic language, declarations of love, descriptions of beauty, but when we focus just on that we may miss the lady urging her peers to not awaken love until the right time … until the right person comes along. They are encouraged not to give their love to the wrong thing instead of waiting for the right thing.
The way that Solomon loved his lady, how he’d found in her a great treasure, that is the way God looks at you. In fact, His love for you couldn’t be contained. No swaddling clothes or grave could hold it back. It had to leave heaven’s majesty and travel through all history to find you right where you are, just the way you are, and He poured out his love all crimson and beckoned you to Himself, because “many waters cannot quench love,” and in Him, we need no longer wait for love.
I love that Ruth took care of Naomi. She trusted that she was in the right place, but she didn’t just wait for Boaz to redeem her. She hoped – she desired with expectation and she approached him and asked him to restore her dignity and vitality – to redeem what was lost.
Scripture: Ruth 1-2
Uncertainty taught me the importance of a personal faith and relationship with a God who is undaunted by our questions and sympathizes with our weaknesses. Hard endings and new beginnings forever sealed in me the necessity of family, whether that which we were born into, or those we make our own.
Today I confess that I struggle with hope. There are days when I hope to get a shower, to have a quiet moment to enjoy something I want to read. In my house, it can get loud quickly with four young and very active kids, and I find myself hoping for an opportunity to call a friend without kids crying in the background. I’ve hoped to make something of myself, and can often forsake the present with a longing for something different. I struggle with wishing for the other side of the proverbial fence that is perpetually greener than the grass of my own life.
During the holidays it is easy to focus on what needs to be done and what we don’t have — we can become consumed with the aches of Christmases past. We feel the void of loved ones who have passed on or with whom our relationship is not right. Feelings of loneliness and inadequacy seem closer to the surface during this time of year. It is easy to despair when our hope is placed in these lesser things. This week, let’s trust in the God who bears the weight of our troubles; let’s place our hope in the Hope of the World.