I discovered a new way to view the Christmas story. I did this while observing my wife, Izabel, during the final months of her pregnancy while imagining Mary over 2,000 years ago experiencing many of the same things. I never thought of how Mary felt during those nine months of her pregnancy with Jesus, except for where her visit to Elizabeth is recorded (Luke 1:39-56).
Reading that passage leads one to believe that this was going to be a good life for Mary. In Mary’s song, The Magnificat, Mary glorifies God, the Mighty One of Israel for all His good works and for calling her to an extraordinary task. I preached recently about Mary’s humility. She was humbled by the realization that she was no one special, and also humbled in not having many worldly possessions. However, I had never considered Mary’s comfort, until Christmas.
As Christmas approached, I began to think of how carrying God’s child affected Mary. Was Mary in as much discomfort as Izabel, especially during the final months of the pregnancy? I assume that Mary experienced all of the normal discomforts of pregnancy. Morning sickness; how long did that last? Avoiding certain foods; I imagine its easier now to avoid foods that cause sickness than it was back then. Back pain as the baby gets heavier along with all the other aches and pains that burden a pregnant body.
Izabel and I discovered that life was easier for us if she stayed at home. Many times during our two month trip to the U.S., I traveled by myself to visit a church rather than bringing Izabel along. Staying at home was easier for her than to feel morning sickness while driving to a church. Mary didn’t have that option. Joseph had to travel to his hometown to register his family for the census called by Caesar Augustus. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was uncomfortable for Mary in many ways.
When Mary visited Elizabeth, Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women!” I imagine that there may have been times throughout Mary’s pregnancy that Mary thought, “If I’m blessed among women then let another woman carry this baby.”
We can easily relate this to the Christian life. As Christians we live in this world, but we know that success will be rewarded in the next life. God called Mary to fulfill a task, raise a child. There was great reward in completing the task. Ask any parent if raising a child is worthwhile and they will say yes, even with all of the difficulties involved. As Izabel and I are experiencing now, the hard work doesn’t end after the birth; it gets harder,even with the husband and wife now sharing in the work. Even in the middle of all the hard work of parenting there is great joy in raising a child.
God has specific jobs for each of His followers that are often hard, demanding, overwhelming. Christianity is the opposite of the world in determining success. The world determines success by power, money, or quality of life. Living the Christian life can lead to the opposite of these, but brings humility and service.
Paul wrote in Colossians 3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Make yourself uncomfortable for Christ because our reward is not waiting for us here, the eternal reward will be worth the cost.