“…Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Mary was frightened. The animals were restless as they felt the tension build. Mary had never known such pain. It consumed every part of her body and being. How she longed for another woman, another daughter of Eve, to be there. Joseph was frightened. He could not understand, but he was a good man and that was enough. They clung to the angel’s words and believed in the promise that this child would crush the head of the serpent and break the power of the curse.
Suddenly, the wait was over. A hush fell over the room as Mary held her baby in her arms. Every hope, every dream, fulfilled in the intimacy of this moment. A mother and child. Oh, the irony of this tender scene! A human, fragile woman nurtures the Messiah – the Giver of life.
Mary’s pain did not end with childbirth. How bittersweet it must have been to watch Him leave to minister with His disciples. How bitter it must have been to watch Him bleed on the cross. To be the mother of the Messiah would require complete surrender to His plan.
But the resurrection ushered in a glorious hope! The Messiah had conquered death and sin. One day, Mary would be in her Savior’s arms. And this time, He would hold her to His breast, and He would wipe away every tear from her eyes.
The richness of that earthly, Christmas birth foreshadowed the fulfillment of every need and promise.
No more sorrow. No more pain.
Our earthly sufferings seem to swallow up our hope and expectation. We become consumed by the trials as they progress in intensity. As the pains of labor, they come in waves and we simply brace ourselves for the next one during the times of reprieve. Like Joseph, we tightly grasp the hands of the people we love, desperately trying to comfort them as they suffer. May we not lose sight of the fact that our sufferings are but for a moment. Because of Christ, our hope is sure. These waves can only propel us further into the arms of our Jesus. Each day, we come closer to the day that we will see Him face to face. Each day, the end becomes sweeter because of the intensity of the trials.
Perhaps the beauty of Christmas does not commence with the silent night or the shepherds gathering around to worship the babe in a manger. The beauty of Christmas can be seen in a frightened virgin girl and her husband, Joseph. There is beauty in the physical and emotional pain of their humble beginning. Why do we so often search for beauty in the extraordinary things? We think that for something to be beautiful, it must be shiny and new. We run from pain and fear thinking, “Surely, there is no beauty here.” Yet all the while, Emmanuel is there. Perhaps we are afraid of what the trials will expose. Will the consequences of our sin and pride be too much to bear? Perhaps we are afraid of His all-consuming holiness. Will Christ indeed ask us to give Him everything? He will. No true King would ask for anything less. He alone can fulfill us and make us whole.
“For I reckon (I am convinced) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
We must press on, just as Mary and Joseph did. Through the pain. Through the sorrow. Down the arduous road toward the city of David. Through the cold dark streets of Bethlehem. Look closer and ponder these things in your heart. Yield your will to His. In the midst of it all is a beauty that is too miraculous for us to comprehend. Emmanuel is here, with us, in our pain. Emmanuel will be with us for eternity.
“…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Colton and Aly Gideons live in Columbia, South Carolina where they serve on staff at Grace Baptist Church. Colton spends his time teaching, serving, and growing the outreach ministry of the church. He is also pursuing a Masters of Divinity online at Southeastern University. Aly serves in ministry alongside her husband and is a stay-at-home mom to their daughter and (very!) soon-to-be second daughter. Aly is also a freelance writer for Lifeway Kids. The Gideons are passionate about cultivating a Christ-centered home and reaching the world around them with the gospel.