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Christmas 2020 may be a stressful holiday for many. Travel restrictions. Yeah, I get that. There’ll be some empty chairs at our Christmas table this year. That hurts my momma heart. And at some homes, empty chairs will never be filled again, and that hurts all our hearts.

Money is tight for most.

Mothers and fathers are worried because the unemployment has run out and congress doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to hurry it along, and the landlord’s patience is running out, and the savings account ran out a long time ago. And their patience is running out with one another and with their kids who are running out of things to do.

But the first Christmas was stressful too.

It was stressful for Joseph because he was the husband. The father. Not the biological father, but he was the one God had chosen to raise His Son. And a father is supposed to be able to protect his family, isn’t he? And now, out of nowhere, Herod has commanded that everyone go back to their home town for a census.

“Why are you letting this happen, God? The trip will be too hard for Mary. We might not make it back before the baby comes.”

And his stress compounded when he got to the door of the inn and the innkeeper told him there was no room for him or his wife—who was already in labor—and he should go round back and let God’s baby be born in the place where the cows and sheep do their business.

I’ve said it before, but have you ever thought about that innkeeper?

When he stood before God, do you think he wished he’d slept in the hay and given Mary his own bed?

We hear the Christmas story over and over again, and it sounds so sweet and inspirational, but it wasn’t just a story.

Joseph and Mary were real people living in real-life stressful situations. I doubt they fully understood who was in Mary’s womb and what His mission was. I doubt Mary understood it all when she followed the crowd to Golgotha and watched her own son hang on a cross when he had never so much as said a harsh word to his momma or lifted a hand against his brothers.

And even if she knew exactly why her son was on that cross, it broke her mother-heart because she was a real flesh-and-bone mother, like you and me and all the mothers who cry when their babies are hurting.

The first Christmas wasn’t the picture-postcard or the lit-up scene on the lawn.

It was lived by real people who didn’t know exactly what was happening to them.

But in the midst of the stress and confusion and questions and worry and wondering what in the world was going on, God was “so loving” the world with His only begotten son. John 3:16.

In the midst of it all, God was bringing “good news of great joy” to folks who had been waiting a very long time for something besides oppression. Luke 2:10

And in the midst of 2020, with all its pain and loss we can still say “Glory to God in the highest,” because Jesus left the Father’s side and made himself flesh and paid for our sins with His own blood while His mother looked up at His broken body with a broken heart.

This may be a stressful Christmas for many of you, but Rebecca and I earnestly pray that you will find God’s grace in the midst of your troubles and rejoice that the Savior has come and is coming again soon to end all our troubles. We have that to look forward to. Have a blessed Christmas and an even more blessed new year.

 

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