The Night Before

As I sit here and write this, it is Christmas Eve. The night before the “big”day. I can’t help but try and think of what it must have been like the night before Mary gave birth to Jesus. Yes, I am aware that Jesus more than likely wasn’t born on December 25th. Yes, I am aware of why December 25th was chosen to be the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth. So, I’m not talking about December 24th as the day before, I’m talking about the actual night before His birth. I wonder if Mary knew that the next day would be the day she would give birth? My guess is probably not. I can clearly remember the days leading up to the birth of our oldest son, Andrew. Diana and I had excitement and anticipation, but we had no idea when it was going to happen. She would go through an entire day heading to Bethlehem, and before the night was over, she would experience the pain of childbirth and the joy of motherhood. Not only would that night change Mary and Joseph’s life, it would change the world.

I can’t help but think about some parallels to that night and 2020. As we were celebrating Christmas in 2019, many people were talking about how they couldn’t wait until 2020. 2020 came in normal enough. But no one knew what was coming in March of 2020, except God of course. While we certainly didn’t have anticipation of a pandemic, COVID-19 took our nation by surprise just as the labor pains took Mary by surprise. Just like the pain Mary went through the night she birthed Jesus, our nation and the world has suffered great pain during this pandemic. Yet, once Mary delivered Jesus, the pain seemingly disappeared and it was replaced by joy. This is why the Bible speaks of how a woman is in pain during childbirth, but as soon as the child is delivered forgets the pain because the child has been born. Yes, we have suffered as a nation. Yes, we have experienced great loss over the last nine months. But it is also true that some good has come out of this pandemic. Families have been around the table more having meals together, schedules have been cleared up to allow margin in our lives, and at least for a while there was a desire in people to understand what was going on and how God is a part of it. Over the past couple of days, a church in Tennessee, Long Hollow Baptist, has seen over 100 people baptized. Long Hollow’s pastor, Robby Gallaty, has described it as something he has never seen, and that it is clear that God is answering the prayers that have been prayed. Mary was pregnant for nine months before delivering Jesus. We have been in this pandemic for nine months. Is there a clearing of the pain and joy coming soon? I don’t know. But what I do know is that no matter what comes in the end of 2020 and into 2021, God is fully in control. There is a plan and a purpose behind all of this. As Psalm 30:5 says, “There may be weeping for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

On behalf of Westlake Baptist Church, Diana, our children, and myself, Merry Christmas. May God bless you and your family not only during this Christmas season, but in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead as you seek Him. One final “programming” note, I will write the final entry for our series, Blogging Through The Bible in 2020 on Monday, December 28th. I hope you will read it, and I hope that this yearlong series has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Merry Christmas and God bless.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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