Christmas is an amazing time because it’s the day when the whole world pauses and focuses on the most important story ever told. However, I think we often hear and tell the story with an inappropriate lightheartedness. We think of lyrics like “silent night, holy night, all was calm, all was bright” and imagine baby Jesus born, gently wrapped, peacefully sleeping in his manger. But is this an accurate picture of the night Jesus was born?
In a recent trip to Israel I got to stand in the fields right outside of the city of Bethlehem – fields that Mary would have likely walked through on her way there from Nazareth. The terrane was difficult for me to walk through in my comfy Nike walking shoes for the few hours we were out, so I can’t imagine being a teenage girl 8 1/2 months pregnant and walking the 75 miles to Bethlehem.
Mary trusted God when He came to her and told her she would give birth to the Savoir. Though it would totally turn her world upside down, she said "I am the Lord's servant May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1:38) Now here she is just a few months later with no shelter, no bed, no mid-wife, in a crowded city, exposed to the elements, and just her new husband beside her going into labor.
I don’t know what Mary was thinking, but I’d understand if she was wondering “God where are you?!?” She said “yes” to God, but I bet she didn’t expect to be in this impossible situation 8 1/2 months later with the baby that He put inside her.
Christmas is not always a happy time for us. For some it brings a heaviness, and reflection on a year that had its highs but also had lows. There were moments this year when I said “yes” to a hard thing that God asked me to do, and it did not end up going smoothly or looking the way I hoped it might. But, when I think about little Mary in the hills of Judea with Jesus in her womb, I’m encouraged.
Though she said “yes” to an extremely difficult thing, God had His eye on her every step of that 75-mile walk and gave her the strength to labor through Jesus’ birth. And when I think about Jesus that night, I’m humbled that our Savior, our Lord, our King of Kings, our Prince of Peace, the one whom through all things were created, would allow himself to be born in such humble circumstances. From the moment He was born He showed us that He’s not a distant God. When we’re going through the fire, when we’re in pain, when were in labor on the ground, He’s right there with us closer than ever! And, if we endure the pains that we sometimes have to walk through, holding on to the “yes” we gave God before we knew what it would look like, God will birth something glorious through us.