When told about Jesus, Nathaniel asked Philip, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” We may frown upon Nathaniel for his initial disbelief, but it was actually a fair question. Nazareth was the equivalent of a one-stoplight town. It was the most unlikely of all places for a King. What if someone told you that a future American president would come from Spivey’s Corner (the hollerin’ capital of the world)? Exactly.
My church has a ministry that reaches out to children and youth with the greatest physical and spiritual needs. The majority of them walk to church from the southern side of town, which mainly consists of lower income families. One of our youth is a black teenage girl with a mental disability. Like most families in her neighborhood, there’s no father at home and her mother can’t work. While this girl may have the mental capacity of a second grader, she also has the purest soul I’ve ever encountered. Sometimes, my eyes fill with water when she hugs me. I feel like Jesus is embracing me.
At Christmas, Santa came to our church to spread his good will. This girl was so enamored with him. She asked him about feeding the reindeer and how he traveled so quickly. In that moment, I stood in awe of her. I couldn’t believe that she had a child of her own.
One day, a man in her household violated her in an unthinkable way. The result of this despicable sin was a baby boy. For me at least, this situation represents the epitome of brokenness. Evil truly has no mercy. Upon hearing about a situation like this, we may ask ourselves, “Can anything good come from this?” This child was born into a world and into a family that is so ill-equipped to care for him. Can anything good come from this?
This baby boy, who attends church with his mother, has become the mascot of our ministry. We joke and say that he’s a “ladies’ man” because all the girls want to hold him. He recently took some of his first steps in our church, and we all applauded him. I don’t know where his feet will lead him in the future, but right now, I can tell you that this child’s very presence brings joy into the lives of many. It’s a joy that comes from the most broken of circumstances. It has shown me once again that God’s Spirit is most alive in our brokenness.
Whether it is divorce, grief, depression, shaky health, or unemployment, sometimes we find ourselves asking, “Can anything good come from this?” Let me answer this question with another question: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”