Against All Odds: Being assured of God’s Faithfulness
The book of Isaiah speaks of a time when the people of Israel were being threatened with an impending attack from the Assyrian army. In spite of the 185,000 troops lining up to destroy Jerusalem, God–through the Prophet Isaiah–told His people they would be spared, even though this appeared impossible by any earthly means. One day, the people in the city peeked out over the wall to check on the status of the enemy, only to find them all lying on the ground, dead.
This wasn’t the first time God pulled off a miracle, against all odds, and it certainly wasn’t the last. This week, we make our annual commemoration of one of the greatest of these astounding events. For centuries, God sent prophecies and promises that a Savior would be born. During that time, there were several figures in the Biblical story of salvation that were born to aging parents, long after the normal time for child-bearing. Among these were Isaac (whose name means “laughter” because his mother thought that having a child at her age—90!—had to be a joke) and John the Baptist, whose father Zachariah was struck unable to speak because of his disbelief that a child would be born to him and his elderly wife, Elizabeth.
Against all odds, Joachim and Anna were relieved of their former barrenness, and we received the answer of centuries of prayers: The birth of the one who would give birth to God. The divine Son of God that would be born of Mary would go on to be the one who would save us from sin and death.
We live in cynical times where even the most optimistic of us can fall pray to the pessimism which comes from seeing such looming threats around us. Maybe we’re fearful of different threats: a challenging economy, the threat or onset of bad health, the coldness of loneliness, or any of a myriad of seemingly overwhelming powerful threats.
The Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos reminds us that God isn’t subject to the odds. He isn’t limited to the forces of society or even nature. The One born of a Virgin—herself born of elderly parents—is the One who rises above all impending threats, and promises to take us either around them all or through them all. Even the greatest threat of all: death.
So let’s celebrate this Feast as we should celebrate them all: They are reminders of the limitless love and power of a God who chooses to use all that He has and is for us and for our salvation.