As Advent, the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, was fast approaching this year, I found myself pondering on the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.
As I listened to the lyrics of a song by ‘Point of Grace’, I could so relate to Mary, as I myself was close to delivering our third child into this world.
‘It was not a silent night. There was blood on the ground. You could hear a woman cry in the alleyways that night, on the streets of David's town. And the stable was not clean. And the cobblestones were cold. And little Mary full of grace, with the tears upon her face, had no mother's hand to hold. Noble Joseph at her side, calloused hands and weary eyes. There were no midwives to be found, on the streets of David's town, in the middle of the night. It was a labour of pain. It was a cold sky above. But for the girl on the ground in the dark, with every beat of her beautiful heart, it was a labour of love’.
But the reality is that Mary’s birthing experience would have been totally different from mine. I was to be surrounded by a doctor and a midwife, with top medical support, in a nice, clean hospital.
When God became flesh, He entered our world in a total different setting. It must have been a pretty tough night for Mary and Joseph. As the song describes, there was no medical support, no clean hospital room with en suite for Mary to rest. No epidural or monitoring of the foetal heart beat during labour. Not even clean sheets. The Saviour of this world was going to be born in a stinky, draughty stable, and I’m sure it was a very challenging experience for Mary as she delivered her first child – with no previous birthing experience.
God could have chosen to set the opening scene of His rescue plan in another century, where His son could have had a safer and more prestigious birth experience. But He didn’t. He chose the minimal and simple place of a stable to bring the Saviour of this world into the world. I imagine that Mary had to be determined to hold on to the promise the angel had given her - that she would ‘conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. His kingdom will never end’ (Luke 1:31-33).
Or maybe she remembered what the prophet Isaiah had promised: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6-7).
I don’t know what harsh realities you’re facing this time, leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Maybe for you this last year was a year of loss, grief and disappointment. Maybe you feel lonely, or you’re experiencing circumstances, like Mary, that you didn’t expect.
Whatever trials and challenges you’re facing, or whatever joys you’re celebrating, I want to encourage you to focus this season on the true reason: Jesus Christ. As promised by the prophets of old, HE is Wonderful and HE is our Counsellor in times of need. HE is our Mighty God, who can and will carry us through every circumstance. HE is our Everlasting Father who loves, cherishes and comforts us.
And last, but not least, in a time where horrendous difficulties like the war in Syria, ISIS and other catastrophes shake our planet, HE, and only He, is our Prince of Peace. When war rages and catastrophe strikes our homes, we can still be at peace if we know Him who is the Prince of Peace. May we all fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, as we prepare to celebrate His birth, and may we rise up to bring that hope and peace to the lonely, heart-broken and wounded lives around us in this special season.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose to bring Your Son Jesus Christ into this world, so that I could find hope, peace, joy and eternal life. I’m sorry for the times I have focused on my circumstances, and let myself be overwhelmed and discouraged instead of looking to You for comfort, strength, joy, and Your peace that passes understanding. Lord, today I choose to put my trust and faith in YOU. Heavenly Father, would You fill me anew with Your Holy Spirit, so that, in this season and beyond, I can be Your vessel, who will bring hope, freedom, joy and peace to the people around me. Amen.
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