Yesterday was one of those days when things just didn’t go as I had hoped. You know the kind of day I’m talking about.
It started out great. I enjoyed my quiet time, made my to-do list, and began the day with family, much like we have for the past few months. Breakfast and beds were made. Kids went to their rooms for school, and my husband made his commute up the stairs to his makeshift office (much easier than the hour and a half commute he used to have on occasion).
My heart was full. It would be a good day. I could feel it. Productive. Peaceful. Intentional.
Everyone was settled and it was time for me to work. I sat down at my computer and attempted to write. But I couldn’t. My site was down. Ok. No problem. Just a minor setback. Well, we know how minor setbacks can sometimes go. A couple hours and multiple calls later, I finally got my site back up and running. Well, that wasn’t how I expected my morning to go.
A few more items were checked off the list. Lunch was served. Shake it off. It would be a good day. I could feel it. Productive. Peaceful. Intentional.
What’s next on the list? Organize the pantry. A task that I needed to do for a long time, and finally felt up to tackling. Only a few minutes in, I spilled a jar filled with sugar all over the pantry floor. It was everywhere.
It’s okay. Just another minor setback.
Was this going to be how all of the day would go? What was happening to my peace-filled day? How was I going to get anything done if this kept happening?
And then I remembered the Advent reading the kids and I did that morning. Our reading talked about Joseph and how he must have felt preparing the stable for his wife who was about to give birth. It ended by asking what we would do if we were in Joseph’s place. It was the first time I had really thought about that before.
What would I do? How would I feel?
Now, over 2,000 years later, we know the entire story. It’s easy to read that and think, I would fluff the hay, move the animals and clear the space, while I waited in eager anticipation for the birth of Jesus.
And I would have to imagine he did do some of those things. When a baby is coming, you prepare. You wait. You feel excitement. And this child wasn’t just any baby; this was the Son of God.
But I also started to think of what may be going on in the back of my mind if I were there at that time.
“Really, God? Seriously? First off, we are having this baby and it is a complete scandal. We have been shamed and ostracized. Then, we have to travel right before Mary is about to give birth. By donkey! For how many miles? And we finally arrive and she is about to have Your Son and this!?! This is what we are left with? This is where she is giving birth? We have been turned away so many times. There is no room for us anywhere, but a STABLE?? We are your faithful servants! Why won’t you give us more?”
Honestly, I think this would have been happening somewhere in the back of my mind. I would have been excited and waiting in anticipation, but maybe also a little bit put off and annoyed by the way things had been going so far.
I bet they had plans for how Jesus would be born. I would imagine they prepared a space in their home. I can’t imagine this was the birth they envisioned.
It hadn’t been easy.
Yet, 2000 plus years later, we can see this was exactly the birth that was needed. Humble beginnings. In a stable. With a blanket of stars above, and shepherds and wise men gathered around, looking down on this swaddled infant, the Christ. Complete awe. This birth set the tone for everything that God was. Even the rejection Mary and Joseph experienced, seems to symbolize in some ways the rejection that Jesus would have. He would be accepted by some. But not by all. He would be humble. He would not be powerful or wealthy. But He would do what He came to do. He would save us.
He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, over the cloaks and palm branches that people had laid on the ground for Him to ride over. He would be anticipating His own death. As His mother rode on a donkey anticipating His birth.
It may not have been the birth Joseph and Mary imagined, but it was the perfect birth for our perfect God.
So what does this have to do with website malfunction and spilled sugar?
Yesterday, things didn’t go as I had hoped. There have been plenty of days throughout my life when I have made my plans and things didn’t turn out as I had expected.
2020 has been a year that none of us had expected.
But God knew. God knows. All of it. Our good days, our bad days, and our days that fall somewhere in the middle. Whether we are in the middle of minor inconveniences, or facing really big challenges – God knows.
He can see the big picture that we can’t see.
Everything falls together. All things are made good. In His time.
And this is where I found, and am finding, my hope.
I find hope the in story of the birth of Jesus and I find hope when I think of what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary.
I find hope when I look beyond my circumstances.
I find hope when I remember that there is a greater purpose, a bigger picture. The hard moments in life, big and small, help refine us. They build character. They test us and strengthen us. Whether it’s spilt sugar, or a pandemic. How will we respond? Will we fluff the hay and prepare a bed? Or will we sit on the floor, cross our arms and legs, and say indignantly, “I’m not going to do this anymore.” Can you imagine if that was part of the story? If Joseph would have just pouted in the hay because the day wasn’t going as he had hoped? Do you know what, if it would have went that way, I would have been able to relate. Just like with so many of the stories in the Bible. The humans that God interacts with are so very – human. And yet He loves them. He chooses them. He invites them to participate in His great story.
Just like He does us.
Each and every day.
And this is where hope is found. When imperfect moments, and imperfect people, meet with our perfect God.