One of my favorite movies to watch during the Advent and Christmas season is The Nativity Story. It’s one of my favorite Bible adaptations because the major characters feel real and approachable. Mary and Joseph seem like intimidating figures to a lot of people, myself included, but this movie depicts them as, well, actual human beings.
There’s a wonderful scene in the movie where Joseph and Mary are on their journey to Bethlehem. They stop to rest by the river and contemplate life as parents. Mary wonders if Jesus will show himself as more than just a child and how they will recognize his divinity. Joseph wonders if he’ll be able to teach his son anything, knowing that Jesus will be fully God as well as fully human. It’s a small moment between the two of them, but it shows that even though they accepted God’s will, they still struggled with uncertainty.
Unfortunately, there was more uncertainty ahead for them. Just when they think they can settle down, they’re off to Egypt, fleeing from Herod, and they won’t be able to return home for years. That is a lot of change to deal with in about a decade or so.
As someone who feels uncomfortable at the very idea of things being uncertain and doesn’t adjust to change all that well, I have no idea how Mary and Joseph were able to handle all the uncertainty and change that happened in their lives. I think that the infancy narratives are a great example of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
During this Advent season, we have our own uncertainties to deal with. Some people travel, others accommodate family, and others deal with fears of the future. In spite of the holiday cheer, it’s hard to feel merry and bright when we go to sleep with all the uncertainties hanging over our heads.
There is no easy answer to how we need to deal with the uncertainty. Some choose to see a quick fix or an escape. Mary and Joseph provide an example of another way. They made the most of what they had. Mary gave birth in a cave and Joseph placed Jesus in a feeding trough. Most importantly, they accepted God’s will and the uncertainty in their lives. Through walking by faith, God was able to provide Mary and Joseph with protection in spite of all the uncertainty.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” For this Advent season and in the year to come, walk by faith with Mary and Joseph.
Reflect: What are some uncertainties that you’re currently dealing with? How well do you adjust to changes in your life, even the sudden ones?
Act: Ask Mary and Joseph to help you deal with your uncertainties.