When I look at the crisis Mary faced with this inexplicable pregnancy in a day when any pregnancy outside marriage at all was questioned and probed, I imagine her life turned upside down.
The only thing holding her together was her faith.
This makes me think of crises I encounter, you encounter, that turn our lives upside down. When the only thing holding you or me together is our faith, which is dwindling at best, if we're honest.
And this brings me to the #1 verse applied to crises by well-meaning people all over the world.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds." (James 1:2)
If I may be so bold, I believe this verse is too often a weapon of spiritual abuse. People hand it out, chastising hurt and pain and questions, when I don't think that's the point of the verse at all.
The verse is not saying,
Hey, chin up.
Be thankful for the challenge.
Take joy in the illness, the diagnosis.
Be happy because your life has fallen apart.
Consider it pure joy that the person you committed your life to is gone.
Be thankful - purely joyful - for what is horrible.
I assert that the message of this verse is entirely different.
There is a piece of God that he only reveals on a journey through difficulty, suffering, and the worst of circumstances.
So when James encourages us to delight in it, to consider it pure joy, to see it as an opportunity, he's talking about the new discovery of Jesus that can only come through that journey.
Paul says anything - and everything - is worthless - compared to knowing Jesus Christ. Anything we might lose gives us the opportunity to know God in a way we never would have otherwise.
Joy flows from the discovery of God.
He is in every circumstance where we wish to find him.
The joy comes in finding him,
over and over and over.
I do not think God gives us crises, tragedy, great losses. But I do think he allows them.
So that we may know.