In Doubt or Disappointment: Trust in the Gift-Giver

by Patti Richter

How can this be? Luke 1:34 NKJV

The girls’ faces fell an inch apiece after opening their mutual birthday present. Our small audience of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles had expected a more enthusiastic response. While the eight-year-old dutifully recovered in time to produce a polite smile and a “thank you,” her six-year-old sister summoned the courage to swallow disappointment.

My granddaughters’ gift included mere words and images in a brochure that promised a future event—one whole month away. Family members jointly contributed to this bigger-than-usual present: one week of summer horse camp. Considering the girls’ ages and interest, it seemed to us like the perfect choice. And, sure enough, the camp soon delivered days of happy smiles, and the girls appreciated the wonderful gift.

Meanwhile, however, the girls had to get over the loss of their expected toys and trinkets. They needed to learn the details of the coming event—and trust their gift-givers!

In a similar way, the Gift of Christmas has come to hopeful souls across the ages. God offers us Heaven, but we crave the things of Earth. Does an audience of winged creatures wonder at our lack of joy?

Gender-reveal parties are always exciting. Friends and family members of parents-to-be come together to discover the expected child’s gender, typically through a sudden burst of pink or blue balloons, confetti, silly string, or smoke. These events are something like God’s “reveal” of the Son he sent to the world. Except God’s means of surprise included sudden bursts of bright angels.

The Gospel of Luke provides “a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled”(Luke 1:1 NKJV). Luke begins with two long chapters full of amazing details surrounding two sets of parents-to-be and the greatest event in history: Christ’s birth.  

In Chapter 1, we see Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, who is too old to conceive. Then, an angel of the Lord named Gabriel brings glad tidings of a son who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Though Zacharias doubted, Elizabeth “brought forth a son,” and, according to the angel’s words, they named him John (Luke 1:11 – 20; 57 – 63 NKJV).

Gabriel next appears to a virgin, saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary . . . Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David . . . and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:26 – 33 NKJV).

 Mary’s face may have fallen a bit. Though she trusted God, Mary was engaged to Joseph, and she needed more details. Gabriel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke:1:35 NKJV).

Luke, Chapter 2, begins with Jesus’ birth, after Joseph, “of the house and lineage of David,” traveled with Mary to Bethlehem under a decree of Caesar Augustus to register “each to his own town” (2:3, 4 NKJV).

An angel soon announced the Savior’s birth to shepherds in the fields, “and the glory of the Lord shone around them . . ..  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:8 – 14 NKJV).

The shepherds accepted the good news of God’s Gift. And they were not disappointed.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles. She volunteers for Arise Daily, using her editing expertise.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: To what are you looking forward this Christmas?

Lord, I’m Just Wondering…How Will This Be?

by Pat Layton @patricialayton

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34 NIV

I remember the first Christmas after believing in Jesus back in 1984. I had always loved Christmas and all that it entailed, but that year was different. Quieter. Sweeter. Personal.

It had been just a few months since I laid my messy-self down at a physical alter and completely surrendered to Him. I brought my heartbreak and shame from a life of bad choices, including the heartbreak of abortion. I brought my broken-to-pieces marriage. I brought my overwhelming sense of failure and worn to the bone weariness from trying to make it all better. With a clear head and a humble heart, I had just heard exactly what the “Gospel” meant for the first time. I enthusiastically received Jesus as Lord of my life and never looked back.

As the Christmas season approaches, I have been contemplating this verse with a fresh heart. I have been thinking about how the unexpected turn of events might have left Mary with even more questions than she started with! Talk about an “unplanned pregnancy”!

Mary’s “How will this happen?” challenge was answered by the angel with “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” It was a reply that offered more questions than answers. Surely she was left wondering: when He does come will I know? Will He tell me when He is coming? How does “the Holy Spirit” feel?

Today’s verse and good news shows us God is not afraid of or offended by our questions, just as when Mary asked, not with doubt but with a sincere wondering, “HOW Lord? I am a virgin.”

So friend, what is going on in your life today that prompts the question….”How will this be Lord?”

Here are some tips I wrote down for myself as I reviewed these verses:

  1. Study God’s Word for a promise that pertains to your CURRENT need or question.
  2. Check your Bible concordance and see where all your need is mentioned. (Be sure to look at the context to make sure you will not be putting words in God’s mouth.)
  3. Decide to believe what God says.
  4. Journal/record your question and God’s answers and state your faith as a prayer. Say it out loud so YOU can hear it.
  5. Let God speak and change your heart.Leave it with Him. He is able. If you find yourself carrying the question again, remind yourself that “God’s Got This!”

Mary had that kind of trust. “May it be done to me according to your word,” she answered.  And lived out that simple trust one step at a time.

Lord, you are amazing. You are good to me. In fact, you are GREAT! I trust you. I surrender to you. I look for your constant leading today, tomorrow and for as long as the questions loom ahead of me. I am thankful for the comfort of The Holy Spirit who walks with me through my questions and gives me the strength to believe. This is the day that you have made. I rejoice and believe!

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What prompts you to ask, “How will this be?” @PatriciaLayton on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

[a lifestyle photographer]About the author: Pat is a passionate and inspiring author, speaker and life coach who has founded and led a variety of organizations during her 25 years in full time ministry. She has published 6 books including her best-selling post abortion recovery Bible study, Surrendering the Secret, released by Lifeway and Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with Your Past, Purpose in Your Present and Passion for Your Future. Visit her website at http://www.patlayton.net for more information.

Join the conversation: What thing in your life did you think of when you read Mary’s question?