At Christmas time, we recount the story of angels bringing tidings of great joy, announcing the birth of the Savior, and praising God, saying:
Glory to God in the highest
And on earth peace,
goodwill towards men! – Luke 2:10, 12-14
Caring for a child destined to be the Savior of the world was a difficult task for Mary and Joseph. Pregnant before consummating their marriage, surely people were gossiping. They had to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census, which would have been an uncomfortable journey for a woman who was great with child and riding on a donkey.
Once they arrived in Bethlehem, they faced even more challenges: They had no place to stay, a righteous man warned Mary that she could anticipate a ‘sword of sorrow piercing her soul’, and Joseph was warned in a dream that King Herod wanted to kill their child. In other words – Mary and Joseph weren’t exactly feeling peace and goodwill from God. They must have wondered why they were given such a challenging responsibility.
Let’s think about their story from a caregiver’s perspective.
Many caregivers ask similar ‘whys’ every day. Why did this happen to my loved one? Why did this happen to me? Why is there no treatment or cure? Why are we on such an uncomfortable journey?
Mary and Joseph began their journey without knowing any details, much in the same way that most caregivers do. We suddenly become responsible for caring for someone with no idea what to expect or how to do it.
With no rooms available at the Inn, Mary and Joseph were worried and frightened. They needed privacy, shelter, warmth and assistance. Just when they were about to give up hope, someone offered them a place to stay. Ok, it was a stable, but they had a roof over their heads and fresh straw to lay down on. Wise men from the East brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. (the gold signifying financial provision, frankincense symbolizing prayers*, and myrrh for its medicinal properties.)
To see God provide for their financial, spiritual and physical needs must have brought them ‘Heavenly Peace’.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
It can be difficult to understand the ‘purpose’ of suffering or why we were called to experience these trials, but seeing how God cared for Mary and Joseph, and my faith that He will do the same for me and other caregivers, brings me a sense of Heavenly Peace – and I hope it does for you as well.
Wishing everyone Peace and a Merry Christmas!
*As it says in Psalm 14:2, “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee…” , and also in Revelation 5:8, “… golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…”