So we’ve all heard the nativity story a million times before, right? Guy meets girl. Girl likes guy. Girl is visited by an angel – has a baby in a barn, etc, etc.

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail favored one! The Lord is with you.”” (Luke 1:26-28)

Mary is delighted by the compliments and happily accepts the task, right? She bakes cookies and tells Joseph the surprise when he gets back from doing the things carpenters do, right? Not so much…

“But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:29)

"Wait, can we go over that whole 'pregnant' thing again?"

Mary is skeptical. Who has the audacity to be suspicious of the angel Gabriel? “Are there some strings attached here?” she might as well be thinking. And I would argue that she has every right to be thinking this. Mary had a sense of what was to come: Great sacrifice, confusion, a derailing of all the plans she had made for herself. Mary had every right to be troubled.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our wants and in our plans that when God has another idea it seems like an injustice. We cry out that things aren’t going according to plan. “I needed that job!” or “He was the only one for me” or “I can’t do without that.” These aren’t just routine changes in our lives – they’re troubles!

And we have this funny little way of convincing ourselves that we shouldn’t have any troubles in our lives. Jesus has a wonderful response to that: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Put it another way: My Father’s will is anything but easy, but it is always good and I am a living example of it!

Mary wasn’t thrilled with Gabriel’s words, but she allowed herself to be the “handmaid of the Lord” and He did miraculous wonders as a result. She trusted God with her troubles and He made them into miracles. What big changes are we still upset about? Is holding onto all of that upset keeping us from taking hold of opportunities we may not even imagine? There’s no such thing as growth without change.