December 7, 2020
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
These verses are some of the most familiar in the Bible. We hear them every year, multiple times over the course of December. In some ways, their power can get lost in the midst of familiarity and repetition. So let’s try to see them from a fresh perspective. For just a moment, imagine that you are in this story, either as Mary or as Joseph.
As Joseph, imagine you have to travel far away for an important government appointment. In tow is your fiance, who is very, very pregnant. All the hotels are full, and you end up sleeping in a barn where she goes into labor.
As Mary, imagine your fiance dragging you across the country while you are 9 months pregnant. Imagine sleeping on the ground and in a barn when suddenly, you realize that the baby is about to come, and you are far from home, family, and all that is familiar.
Have you ever been in a spot where circumstances were completely outside of your control? Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for the census. For Mary, the baby was coming when it decided to come – not when it was convenient for her. How do you feel in those moments? Anxious, frustrated, and scared all come to mind. You know what doesn’t come to mind? Peace. Yet this is the week of Advent when peace is supposed to be at the forefront of our minds.
It’s hard to imagine a peace that isn’t tied to or impacted by what is happening around us. But this is the very type of peace God promises us in Phillipians 4:6-7.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Now, try reimagining Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem through the lens of peace. What if at each step they felt confident that they were moving towards what God had for them, instead of away from all security and familiarity? What if their time in the stable was quiet and peaceful instead of panicked and anxious? Can you imagine your own difficult circumstances through that same lens? Do you believe God can transform what you feel and how you perceive what’s around you in a way that surpasses your current understanding?
I believe it’s true because I’ve experienced it. I have had times when my entire life turned on a dime. Not because my circumstances changed, but because God transformed my perspective and brought me peace. He can do the same for you. Try asking for that peace this week especially if you feel like you are in a tough spot.