Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Pain of That First Christmas

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son”
 (Matthew 2:6, 7).

Those few verses incorporate so much more than Christ’s physical birth.  They are impacted by events beforehand and afterwards, and they include pain.  Have you ever considered that everyone involved in that first Christmas experienced some kind of pain?

Mary experienced the pain of separation from family and endured months of ostracism and gossip beforehand.  She then faced the exhaustion of travel and painful childbirth in very uncomfortable surroundings.  Afterwards, she faced the physical trial of escaping with a newborn to new surroundings.

Joseph had to deal with the painful doubts and perplexing truths concerning Mary’s pregnancy.  He faced the humiliation of being unable to suitably provide for his wife and the danger of getting them safely to Egypt.

The shepherds lived lonely lives spent out in the elements, and they had no social or financial standing.  They were looked down on with as much contempt as tax collectors.  They knew pain - physical and emotional – on a daily basis.

The wise men traveled for months to see Jesus and then return home – a physically exhausting and dangerous trip.

And what about God the Father and His Son?  Both had known this day was coming, and yet how hard it must have been for Jesus to leave the glory of heaven and endure the separation of 33 years culminating in excruciating death on the cross.  And how difficult for the Father to send His Son into such poverty, suffering, and shame.

Yes, that first Christmas was full of pain. Whatever we are struggling with – being limited financially in what we can give, being unable to decorate, socialize, or eat foods we would like, being separated from those we love, or suffering great physical pain – God understands them all, because pain surrounded that first Christmas. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you understand the pain I am facing this Christmas.  I want to rejoice in this season even if I am unable to enjoy all the pleasures that come with it, knowing that our eternal celebrations will more than compensate for my pain now. Amen.


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