What is your favorite Christmas memory? I hope it brings a smile to your face. But not all Christmas memories bring joy and fond memories. Some Christmas memories bring pain.
If you believe the story of Mary, or even if think it a fictional tale, her first Christmas brought ache and soreness from riding a donkey over rough terrain. Chills from the cold night air. Heartbreak and tears when told she would spend the night in a cave with livestock. Exhaustion and indescribable pain while giving birth.
The “Christmas culture” sanitizes the events of that evening. We only see the smiling parents, cooing baby, and shepherds marveling at the infant. We overlook Mary’s pain. Only later would she remember with fondness how that evening in the cave brought her joy.
But the heartbreak returned when her child grew into an adult. The boy would always be her child, her baby, but his pain was never far from her. Such is the lot of a mother.
And what of Joseph? Was he not also pained when Mary told him she was pregnant by another? Was he not wounded when Mary left during her pregnancy to live with her cousin? Was he not grieved to learn that his role and importance in the boy’s life would diminish until finally he became a forgotten figure in his son’s life?
For some this Christmas will bring pain from the loss of a spouse, son or daughter: ache from fractured relationships. For some this Christmas will bring the fear of what’s to follow the day after. If so, think on this: without the pain of that first Christmas there would be no Christmas presents. There would only be the inevitable separation and solitude promised by the grave.
There is a gift with your name on it lying in a manger. This Christmas unwrap the miracle of God’s love and be reconciled with your Father. Though His love may not banish all pain and sorrow in this life, it will in time remove every tear if we only have the faith to believe.