When we read the Christmas story in our Bible, there are many things we are not told. We do not know, for example, if Mary walked along with Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem or if she rode a donkey. The Bible is silent on this detail. However, speaking from my own experience with pregnancy, I can say that a long walk or a bumpy ride on a donkey would not be an easy or comfortable for an expectant mother depending on how far along Mary might have been. The journey was nearly 70 miles one way. If we consider possible morning sickness, fatigue and carrying extra weight as we make the journey, we have a whole new perspective on this trip.
In reality, Mary and Joseph had no choice in the matter. The Roman government was interested in taking a census and required everyone to return to their hometown in order to register. This, in itself, was difficult, but adding a pregnancy to the picture only complicated things further.
On top of all this, when they arrived, there was no room in the inn. Although the Bible does not specifically say the child was born in a stable, we do know that his mother laid him in a manger (see the story in Luke 2:1-20). This is what leads us to believe that perhaps Jesus was born in an area occupied by animals. No matter the location, I am certain this is not what either Joseph or Mary had in mind when they set out on this journey. Yet, as we know, life rarely gives us a smooth path to our destination. If it did, would we ever need to trust in the Lord with all our hearts?
How many times have we set out on a trip with every intention of arriving on time, unruffled and ready to go? Certainly our family has had more than our share of mishaps while traveling. The good news is that when we arrived all the difficulties along the way disappeared from our thinking. Our reward for persevering was the rich fellowship of friends and family.
I am certain that when Mary gave birth to our Savior the hardships from the journey slipped into the background as she looked into the face of Jesus. Her focus was where it should be and we must follow her example. None of us has been promised a life without hardship, difficulty or pain. Jesus told us we would face tribulation, but He told us that we should be of good courage because He has overcome this world. He is the reason for this season that we celebrate, and we should not stop with Christmas.
Because He came, we can face tiring journeys, difficult circumstances and the challenges of tomorrow. We are secure in His love and when we focus on Him, all else fades into the background. He is our strength, our significance, and the very breath we take each day. I am certain Mary and Joseph felt this way when they looked into the face of the King of Kings. Good things do not come easy, but the treasure that awaits us as we seek to follow Christ is worth everything we have to offer Him. Selah!