The account in Luke 1 which details the announcement of the birth of Christ to Mary is a widely known story to Christians. The appearance of the angel Gabriel to a virgin with a ruffling announcement to forever change the world is one we know too well. To the unacquainted, here is a brief summary: There was a virgin named Mary who lived in the city of Nazareth in Galilee. She was engaged and while she waited to be married, she is visited by an angel. A part of the conversation between them goes thus:
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. – Luke 1:30-35 (NKJV)
Our familiarity with the story might have quelled the sentiment that this is, mildly put, a unique situation to be in. It was a dilemma.
“I will be pregnant by Immaculate Conception? I am engaged to be married. This must be of the devil. How can God want to disrupt my life so much? My fiancé will abandon me. I will be subject to public ridicule. I will be stuck with a child who will remind me of pain all my life. How do I explain this? What do I tell my parents and my friends? They already thought I was crazy but this will surely confirm it.”
Mary understood and could accept the part of the message about having a son who would be great, sit on the throne of His father David and reign over the house of Jacob aka The Messiah. Every Jewish woman in her day nursed hopes of bearing The Messiah. Every pregnant woman wondered if they would have a son and if indeed he would be The Messiah. It was a welcome blessing however the part that brought confusion was the pregnancy without intercourse. “I am glad to be the chosen one to bring forth the messiah but I am an unmarried virgin.” Similarly, we welcome the blessing from God but are often unaware of the convoluted path. That is why her sole question was, “How will this happen, seeing that I am a virgin?” It is important that she is able to explain how the inexplicable happened – a paradox.
The entire situation was utterly confusing and it would be to you as well. Despite the effort of the angel to explain in as much detail, I am certain she was still left with some confusion after his leave. This confusion however is child’s play compared to what she would have experienced if the angel had not brought the message to her in the first place. That would have been utterly nerve-wracking.
Imagine you were a woman who had never been with a man, were engaged to be married and suddenly without any intimation find yourself pregnant and with a growing belly. Words cannot describe the confusion i would feel. Hundreds of unanswerable questions will flood your mind that would fall somewhere into the five stages of grief or loss (Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance) having not experienced any loss at all. “What is happening to me? Is this a joke? There is absolutely no way I can be pregnant. I am probably just experiencing symptoms of an illness. Did I fall into a coma and was raped? I knew my neighbor was a creep. Am I a sexsomniac? I kept myself for marriage and God decides to punish me with this?” For the less dramatic, “my life is changing” and for the more dramatic, “my life is over”. “Poor Joseph! Maybe he should have married Dalia. I would bring shame on him and on my family. What am I to do with a baby to whom I can’t explain the circumstances of his birth? How do I raise him?”
Now, get this… God does not always give notice about what He is doing with you. This was a unique courtesy He afforded Mary and a few other people. He doesn’t require our permission and hardly ever gives us the courtesy of informing us before he throws your life into confusion and seeming disarray. As a result, many have experienced this emotional roller coaster contained in the preceding paragraph but adjusted to their peculiar situation. We have had some of the feelings and questions Mary would have asked because we couldn’t place a finger on what was happening in our lives. There are things we experience or go through that we cannot explain and we really wish God would give some info. Gideon said, “If God is with us, then why has all these happened to us?”
Joseph the infamous Bible dreamer was thrown aboard this roller coaster of confusion without warning. He had big dreams in his heart which were inspired by God and suddenly his life started to deteriorate for reasons that could not be explained. God did not bother to explain to him that he would go through these tough situations despite his innocence and faithfulness to God. He was envied, plotted against, sold into slavery by his brothers; seduced and lied against by his master’s wife; thrown in a dungeon by his master and forgotten in prison by someone who owed him a debt. His was a turbulent journey and he never saw God’s hand or agenda in all this until the tail end.
Notice the angel starts by saying to Mary, “you have found favor with God.” How does such a potentially problematic situation indicate favor with God? Indeed if only we had the premonition and insight into the mind of God, we would understand that what appears to be inexplicable confusion is actually a side-effect of God’s working favor.
For many, we are often unable to connect the dots. A lot seems to be going on that cannot be explained. If you are indeed a true child of God, it is possible that you are experiencing immaculate pregnancy without the courtesy of an explanation by angels. You are experiencing the symptoms without seeing the angel. One thing I have learnt on my short journey with God is that sometimes the way up is down.
Has a situation that seemed like imminent disaster ever turned out to be a blessing? Has a path that seemed tedious and convoluted turned out to be a proper training and grounding for a major blessing? Have you faced a wall only to discover that it is indeed a door? For some things, we could and would never understand on this side of eternity. Our understanding is limited and when angel Gabriel doesn’t show up to hint at what’s to come, we can only accept.
What we ought to do after we have done all we know to do with those inexplicable circumstances that confuse is to be still and know that He is God. All things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Shalom.