In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26–27, esv).
Times were tough in the nation of Israel. Occupied by the Romans, tyrannized by a capricious lunatic King Herod, they never knew what a day would bring. Helpless to change the situation or protect their own families from all of the dangerous, frightening uncertainties, the people of Israel faced a fearful future. These were desperate times.
So when you come to Luke 1:26, where “the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,” it’s important not to gloss over this Christmas moment and fail to see its true historical setting. Don’t view it through the lens of a modern-day nativity scene, everyone with glowing faces and embroidered clothing. Mary lived among common, ordinary people who were overwhelmed by challenging and difficult circumstances. They were left with only one thing to hang onto: the promise of the Messiah. Just as today we’re waiting for Christ’s return, they too were waiting. All the prophets had talked about it—Isaiah, Micah, Malachi, and many more. All the hope of Israel was tied to the coming Messiah, a promise they could only wait for.
But then Gabriel came with the announcement—Jesus was coming.
Hope meets us where we are. Hope finds us.
I mean, look where it touched down: Nazareth. Remember Nathanael’s question? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)? Nazareth was seventy miles away from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a small, rural place known mostly for being the nondescript, disrespected home to fewer than two thousand people. Why would God choose to send the Messiah by way of Nazareth? How could that be?
It’s because God meets us where we are. We don’t have to make our own dreams come true. All we’re told is to be faithful, to do what God has given us to do. Then, even with all the things our heart may look and long for, hope can find us. Like hope found Mary.
Where are you this Christmas? What are your fears? What are the things about which you’re secretly in anguish? What’s causing you to feel . . . hopeless?
Maybe you fear time, not knowing how much longer you can keep doing what you’re doing.
Maybe you fear loss of control, watching something slip out of your hands that you’ve tried to make happen, realizing now that you can’t orchestrate it on your own.
Maybe you fear something that would be irreparable, a series of events that, if the dominoes keep falling, can never be fixed or made right again.
But hope says God can still make things right. God can make amazing things out of ashes and clay. The great unknowns that are troubling you and your family the most right now have not escaped His notice or attention. Unlike us, He sees the future perfectly. So let Him meet you where you are.
Mary was a poor woman from an obscure town who found hope because God found her. He sent word to this faithful betrothed girl, announcing that He had not forgotten His promises.
God pursues us.
He comes after us.
Hope finds us.
Lord, You know where I’m fearful today. You know what I’m feeling desperate about. My life isn’t a pretty picture right now—but neither was Mary’s. Thank You for reminding me to stand here where I am and wait for You. I do trust You. I do hope in You. And because of Your love and goodness, I will not be afraid. I will not strive to achieve what only You can give. I will wait on You, who is my hope, in Jesus’ name. Amen.