Inviting God into our mess

By Jeremy Goebel

Youth and Young Adult Ministry

During the Christmas season, the manger scene is a focal point for prayer and meditation. Mary and Joseph gaze in awe and wonder at their newborn son Jesus, who lies still, fast asleep in the manger. The animals sit calmly so as not to disturb the newborn king as He rests. The shepherds visit, and the wise men come bearing gifts. It’s all so lovely and peaceful. But is there more to the story that we could be missing? Perhaps, after looking more closely at the surrounding circumstances, one can see that the first Christmas was filled with trials, difficulties and plenty of opportunities to trust that God would provide.

Jesus made a crash landing into this world. It wasn’t a convenient time or situation for Him to be born into. It wasn’t peaceful, at least not in a conventional sense. This is illustrated in the fact that there was no room for them at the inn, and that Jesus had to be born in a stable. In addition to that, soon after His birth, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt in order to save Jesus’ life from King Herod. They were placed in less-than-ideal conditions, but they found a way to be at peace by trusting in God – in spite of their circumstances. 

Perhaps God is inviting each of us to experience His peace by trusting that He will provide for us even when circumstances are not ideal. Jesus promises to give us peace; but as He says in John’s Gospel, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Perhaps He offers us His peace in the midst of the chaos of life, and not outside of it. 

At times, we discount the fact that God can reach us and enter our lives at any point. We drum up all kinds of reasons why we can’t hear God or why He can’t hear us. We blame our own sinfulness or our broken relationships. We think that if God would just clean up our mess, then we could get back to where we are “supposed” to be in life; and then, we can be holy. We tell ourselves that maybe if God would remove all of the hardships, we would find peace. 

But God isn’t waiting for your mess to go away so He can be present to you. He’s present to you because of your mess. He didn’t wait for the world to be perfect so that He could become one of us. He became one of us because we are not perfect. 

God wants to reach you, individually and without exception, in whatever circumstance you’re in. Regardless of where you’re at in life; how messy or hopeless a situation may seem; how broken that relationship appears to be; or how distant you might feel from God at times; He loves you, and He is with you. 

Immanuel means “God is with us." He truly is with us, and Jesus brings light to the darkness. We hear this echoed in Scripture as the Psalmist says, “Dark is not dark for you, and the night shines as the day.” He didn’t come to this world to see our perfections. He came into the world to heal our brokenness. Redeeming our fallen nature is the whole point of the Incarnation. 

In a strange way, His mercy is attracted to our weaknesses and shortcomings. A natural response to this is to feel unworthy, and to hide away like our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. But God calls us to reject that notion by simply letting go and surrendering our lives to Him. Jesus Christ is asking you to trust Him. He desires to be with us in the messy circumstances that we experience in life. Will you invite Him in? This Advent season, let us pray for a renewal of heart and mind, so that we can trust in Jesus with greater hope and confidence.