Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

God With Us: In Labor

Long months have passed. The wait is almost over. She’s kept Elizabeth’s words tucked in her heart, pulling them out when she needed them: “You are blessed, blessed for believing the Lord would fulfill His promises to you.”

Reading: Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 11:28-30

Song: Labor of Love by Andrew Peterson


Mary never imagined the what would happen in the months following her simple yes. Perhaps that’s why we’re so awed by her story.

It’s the hiddenness. Her unknown status, small and overlooked as a young woman in a tiny town.

It’s the wonder. “How can this be?” That God Most High would find favor, that He would be pleased, with me? That He would plant some seed of greatness within me, entrusting me to nurture and guard it?

It’s the vulnerability. She knew she risked her life by trusting. She must have felt the rushing beat of anxiety within her, the burn of misplaced shame in her cheeks. And yet she walked the road, knowing all she could do was trust.

And now the anticipation comes to an end. But nothing seems right.

Joseph’s family has probably come to Bethlehem as well; they would have traveled in caravans on the dangerous trip. All the guest rooms are full, so Mary and Joseph are left with the animals. How can the Son of the Most High enter the world surrounded by livestock?

The contractions are coming closer, stronger, and they know it won’t be long. Months of waiting, preparing, praying, and sitting in the tension, and now the true labor begins.

Perhaps she wonders if she’s strong enough to make it through. There are no epidurals to dull the pain, no contingency plans if labor takes a dangerous turn.

Mary has known women to die in labor, at least heard the stories. There are certainly hours of pain and struggle to bring Life into the world.

She doesn’t know the words her child will speak in thirty-some years. She just knows she has a promise, she has prepared, and now it’s time to work. They may have given her comfort, could she see into the future:

“Come, you who labor under heavy burdens. I will give you rest.”

Even as He had through the long months of waiting, the Maker sustained her through the pain of labor. He was present when the pangs grew intense and the pushing seemed too hard.

He sustains us there as well.

We wait and prepare and sit in the tension. We walk in faithful hope. We trust Him to shelter us, erase our shame, and cover us.

And then comes the labor. Suddenly, we wonder why we ever agreed to this. We wonder if we would still have said yes if we had known how long and dark the night of labor would seem.

When it seems as though the struggle would never end, God is with us there as well. He’s whispering, “Come to me in your labor. Let me take your heavy burden, walk with you, make it lighter. I long to give you rest for your soul.”

Immanuel leans close the moment it all feels too much. We may not hear or see, but in the hardest work, He’s breathing strength into us.

Even in the labor, even in the dark of night, He is still God With Us.

He isn’t leaving.


If you know somebody who would enjoy these devotions, please share!

*These devotions are inspired partly by Andrew Peterson’s gorgeous album, Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. You would love it in your Christmas music collection <3


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