“Do Not Be Afraid…” (Luke 1:30)

“I need your advice about an OB-GYN.”

Our friend’s daughter was having her first child. She was excited but understandably anxious, dealing with so many different potential medical issues. She had information overload as numerous friends and family members were giving her advice how to best prepare. I reviewed the list of OB-GYNs that she had collected as well as their respective hospitals where they had delivery room privileges. I nodded my approval as I recognized many names. “Really, all of them are very good. It comes down to your personal connection with them. You’ll just have to meet them.” I paused for a moment and then said, “ I don’t want to alarm you but I think it is equally important to select a hospital that has an excellent neonatal service, preferably one with a good neonatal intensive care unit.”

She was puzzled. “Why?”

“Your OB will be taking care of you and the baby up to the time of the delivery but after that, it is in the hands of the hospital staff and pediatricians. If there are any complications, you want to make sure the hospital where you are delivering is well prepared.”

My friend eked out a smile as she attempted to assimilate this new information. There are few life events as stressful as preparing for a new child. From choosing the right OB-GYN, dealing with the physiological changes of pregnancy, to preparing a home for the new family member-any additional stressors are definitely not needed. She was doing everything possible to anticipate any problems that could occur. Over two thousand years ago, a young woman, also pregnant with her first child, did not have the benefit of such careful preparation. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was young, likely a teenager. She and her husband, Joseph, were poor. During the last weeks of her pregnancy, they were not in the safety and comfort of their home but had to travel to another city to register themselves for taxation. When Mary went into labor, they were unable to find an inn or the home of someone they knew. Desperate, she was forced to deliver in a manger, amidst dirty farm animals and drafty surroundings. There were no clean sheets or comfortable beds. Besides her husband, there were no friends or other family members. Unlike my friend’s daughter, there was no way Mary could have adequately prepared for this. Amplify the fear my friend’s daughter was experiencing a hundred fold! During these dark moments, did Mary remember the promise of God when He told her she would give birth to the Messiah?

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” 

Luke 1:30 (NASB)

The Christmas story is a beautiful story of hope and the fulfillment of God’s promise to a lost world. Yet, superimposed upon this is a dark story of poverty, oppression, and fear. Like Mary, Christmas may also be a very stressful time for many of us. While we seek to honor God and rejoice in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we all have many other obligations and distractions. Family commitments. Broken relationships. Illness. Financial hardship. 

For all who are experiencing stress during this Christmas season, take comfort in God’s message to Mary. Do not be afraid! God is in control. He loves us and desires to bless us through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men  with whom He is pleased.

Luke 2:14 (NASB)

Merry Christmas!

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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