Summary: That's what the Christmas event is all about - God showing up in the midst of the unexpected.
Not What I Expected
When I was in seventh grade, like so many youth at that age, music became a huge part of my life. I was awakened to the sounds of music of Elton John’s Greatest Hits, SuperTramps’ Breakfast in America and Led Zepellin 2. So my hope and dream was to build a stereo system for my bedroom including a turntable, cassette player, receiver and a set of great speakers. I did my research and then turned in my list of components to my parents. When Christmas morning came, it was not what I expected. Instead of getting a pumping stero system with high end components, which my parents later told me they couldn’t all afford, they decided to get me this: Image, an all in one steroe. This was not what I asked for, nor what I wanted. Boy was I ever surprised. Christmas can be full of the unexpected. You’re expecting one thing and then the unexpected shows up. That can happen during the Christmas season. The unexpected shows up unannounced and it can destroy the joy of this season for us. But during these holidays, I want you to remember, if the unexpected shows up knocking on your door, invites itself in, invades your personal space, and seeks to destroy or take away your smile, remember you can still expect God to show up as well.
That's what the Christmas event is all about - God showing up in the midst of the unexpected. Mary was a 13 year old virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit, poor, uneducated and from a nothing little town which was so small that it didn’t even appear on the map. She gives birth to the Savior in a cave which served as a barn filled with animals and the dung to go with it and places the child in a stone trough. For Israel who had been looking and praying for a Savior for more than 7 centuries, the unexpected showed up in unexpected circumstances. Not only was the birth of the Savior not what they expected. This babe grew up to be a man and He was not the type of Savior they expected either.
In our Scripture today, Isaiah prophesizes that God was going to send a Savior into the world and that there would be light despite the darkness. Isaiah was living in uncertain times. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been humbled to their knees by the invasion of the growing superpower Assyria while Egypt to the south was still trying to hold onto Israel and threatening to attack. And Judah was stuck right in the middle at ground zero. In the midst of all of this, their government was waffling about who to place their alleges in, there were wars and rumors of wars, there were terrorist attacks and families were going without proper nourishment. Isaiah stood in this uncertain time and proclaimed God will show up.
He came up with a word that helped him get from the uncertainty surrounding combined with all the doubts it caused to knowing that God was going to show up. This word created a bridge for him so that he could remember that God would indeed come despite the circumstances. It's a small preposition, but it makes all the difference in the world. Isaiah begins our Scripture today with that word, "nevertheless." Looking right into the darkness and the tough times, Isaiah said “Nevertheless, God will show up.” This is how he says it in chapter 9, "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress." Nevertheless. Nevertheless, say that with me: nevertheless.
There might be times of darkness, gloom and distress in your life, but nevertheless there will come a time when God will show up. It’s not a question of if but when. Does anybody know what Isaiah is talking about? While you’re in the midst of hard times and things were looking pretty bleak and you didn't know how or if things would work out, “nevertheless, God showed up.” Have you ever been there? Nevertheless, God came through. What Isaiah is saying is that despite dark days, despite dark nights, despite uncertainty, God shows up, nevertheless. In the midst of the darkness, the light of the Messiah will shine through. There was an experiment with the Hubble telescope where they redirected it from the lights from visible stars and planets and focused it into the utter darkness of space. So they shined it into blackness and left it there for one day, two days, and then on the 14th day there appeared galaxies that exist beyond the darkness. The point is this: Christmas is our promise that there will always be light past your darkness. Nevertheless! That’s the promise of Christmas. When times looked bad, Isaiah knew that God would come in a Son as the evidence that there would never be just darkness. That is the promise that Christmas brings. In the very worst of times, God has always shown up. So when the dark clouds roll into your life, and you can't see how things are going to make it, and there's a gap between where you are and where you need to be, I want you to remember that one word in the midst of that darkness, nevertheless, the God we serve will show up.