Today’s post is about uncertainty.
I’m sure that, at one time or another, almost everyone has contemplated the thought of Mary’s uncertainty, as she travelled to Bethlehem on that first Christmas, two thousand years ago.
She was expecting her first child, a poor young woman with no resources, except her faithful husband and faithful God. Many of us have wondered what it would be like to arrive in an unfamiliar town and have nowhere to stay, and then to actually go into labour that night, with no midwife or doctor, no clean bed, and most of our baby’s requirements left at home. (Mary had swaddling clothes, so maybe that is a little like us being able to grab some disposables from the 7-11.)
But, the truth is, that we all have very uncertain lives. We literally don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We have no idea when we will be called to leave this world. We can ‘read the signs of the times’ and get a feel for events moving into place around us, but as for the exact circumstances of tomorrow, or even later today, or even five minutes’ time, well, who knows?
God does, of course.
The Bible is filled with stories, amazing stories, of the uncertainty of men and women and the faithfulness of their God.
The Apostles were no strangers to uncertainty, even though they lived with Jesus, day in and day out. It may seem surprising to be reading about Jesus’ Last Supper during this time of Advent, but, Jesus’ words on that night are really the crux of His mission on earth and show us the certainty that He promised to give us to replace the uncertainty always present in our lives.
Jesus promised us peace. He never assured us that we will experience wealth, happiness (as in always getting everything we desire), stability, good health, freedom from war and tyranny. Some of His followers do experience blessings; some are freely given, some are given as an answer to much prayer, some are given miraculously, but none of those blessings are guaranteed.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ” John 14:27.
It was peace that marked the lives of Mary and Joseph, as they passed through their many trials. It was peace that the shepherds experienced, when they arrives at the humble shelter to honour the baby Jesus. And it is peace that the world craves – the world will not be converted with an intellectual argument; if that were so, then we would have no atheists today. When we have peace, true peace, not a false acceptance of error or sin, and when we live that peace, then not only can we cope with whatever life throws our way, but we also learn to listen, to better help our children, to make good decisions, to discern the Will of God, to have dialogue with other Christians, to build bridges.