December 26 I Saturday
“When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under...” —Matthew 2:16
While Christmas is a beautiful time of year where we remember God dwelt among us in the babe of Jesus, there are aspects of the Christmas story that speak of challenge, difficulty and pain. After Jesus was born, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem to worship the King of the Jews. When King Herod heard this news, he was disturbed. Herod gathered all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law to ascertain where the Messiah would be born and was told, “In Bethlehem.” Herod secretly sent the wise men there saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me…” (Matthew 2:8). The wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem, bowed down and worshiped Him.
This story takes a twist when the wise men were told in a dream not to return to Herod. Joseph, also, had a dream, where an angel of the Lord told him, “Get up, take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him” (Matthew 2:13). All of a sudden, an unexpected set of circumstances set in. Mary and Joseph, with baby Jesus, had to flee for their lives.
What were the emotions of Mary and Joseph when their world was suddenly turned upside
down? Probably anxiety and panic, as they fled Bethlehem under the cover of darkness; hope was likely in short supply while they were running for their lives. But Mary, as she was fleeing, was literally holding on to the hope of the world in her arms.
Maybe this Christmas season, we are trying to hold on to hope in the midst of difficult circumstances that have taken place recently in our life: the death of a loved one, loss of a job, illness, a broken relationship, etc. We may feel frightened, anxious and confused as to how everything will work out. For Joseph and Mary, the Christmas story is a real story that contains the struggle between hope and despair, life and death, certainty and the unknown.
We can be in the centre of God’s will for our life and unexpected life-changing events can still take place—this does not mean God has abandoned or punished us. Just as Mary was carrying the hope of the world in her arms, we need to know that if we have put our faith in Christ, despite whatever circumstances come our way, the hope of the world lives within us. The Christian life can be full of heartaches, but we can hold on to the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.
Prayer: Dear Almighty God, no matter what unexpected circumstances come my way, I hold on to the firm hope that You will never leave me or forsake me. Thank You, God.