This is an especially difficult holiday season for us due to another loss of a loved one and my medical issues. I got the results of my MRI, and I now have to get the suspicious mass checked out that was discovered when I was hospitalized for a bowel blockage. My biopsy is scheduled for January 2, 2018.
So we’re dealing with fresh grief again and my anxiety level is really high right now. As I have said many times, children who are spanked/hit/abused have a higher chance of getting an anxiety disorder. I’m working on getting my anxiety under control. Not easy!
All this has me thinking about the first Christmas. My friend and I were discussing grief and how this Christmas doesn’t feel magical or joyful to either of us. One of my other friends got us a new small Christmas tree and scented candle to smell like a tree in order to change things up and make it a little less painful. We also got a new outside Christmas light.
There’s joy amidst the pain. Just like the first Christmas.
Imagine the emotional drama Mary and Joseph went through when Mary got pregnant with Jesus. How do you explain that to people who might not believe you that you are carrying God’s child and did nothing wrong? Thank the Lord, God explained to Joseph that he could still marry her after the Baby was born. He was going to divorce her.
They had so much joy in having God’s Son! How humbling it must have been for Mary. But she had to deal with everything that comes with normal pregnancy. And, again, how did she explain to people about the pregnancy?
Keep in mind that they were living in poverty and in tumultuous political times. Imagine having to travel by camel to register in their hometown of Bethlehem while being in the last stages of pregnancy. I can guarantee that Mary experienced pain which must have upset Joseph because he loved her and had to do his best to protect her and the Baby. That must have been a lot of pressure on him!
Yes, God was with them. But that doesn’t mean it was easy!
After arriving in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor. She didn’t have the Baby in a nice home or hospital. There was no room for them in the inn—both physically and emotionally—so she gave birth in a place where the animals were kept. It was not very sanitary or comfortable, making labor, which is no fun in and of itself, even more difficult.
But here comes Jesus Christ and there was great JOY!
“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them” (Luke 2-20, NASB).
There was pain and joy. It wasn’t this totally joyful event for Mary and Joseph, yet, there was plenty of joy and rejoicing!
That was until King Herod found out about this Baby that people were coming to worship. How dare they worship a baby and call Him “King!” King Herod had a fit and ordered his men to kill all the male babies that were 2 or younger. There was a lot of screaming and weeping from parents who had their babies murdered for no reason. God told Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt until it was safe for them to return to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18).
This meant another trip across the desert with the Baby. Jesus may have been a toddler by then. I know Jesus was completely without sin, but I truly believe that He behaved as a typical infant and toddler; crying and going through the typical developmental stages are not “sin” as many Christians believe. See more info here. He cried when He needed something such as a feeding, nap, diaper change, or just to be comforted. We all know how difficult it is to travel with a baby. And then they were in hiding until Herod died.
Yes, there was joy on the first Christmas but the reality is that it wasn’t all joy. There was plenty of pain, fear, stress, and confusion. God was there through it all, but due to sin in the world, He had to watch suffering too. Jesus chose pain over continuous joy in Heaven in order to save us from our sins.
Also, God didn’t rebuke or punish them for expressing their pain and frustration. He loved them and that’s what He still does with us. He suffers along with us and comforts us while correcting us gently when necessary.
We should do our best to be there for our children instead of punishing them. God does not punish us. Therefore, we should do our best to help our children instead of punishing them.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17 NASB).
We are going through some rough, scary things right now, but I know God is with me/us. He will see us through this painful, scary season and I am counting on next Christmas being more joyful. In the meantime, I continue to look for the moments of joy.
Every good thing comes from the Lord. If you too are going through some rough things this holiday season, please know that you’re not alone. God’s with you. Please try to find friends to help support you. It’s okay to change traditions if the old ones are too painful this year. We hope to get back into our traditions next Christmas. Whatever you need to do to find some joy and peace this Christmas, please do.
Please keep praying for me. Thank you so much!
Incidentally, I still have a very limited number of books if you want a signed copy for $10. Free shipping in the continental United States. Please contact me and we’ll work something out.
May everyone have a peaceful, blessed, and merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.