(Please allow for artistic liberties as I share what Mary may have experienced..)
2019 years ago.
The Jews groaned silently under the heavy yoke of Roman rule, careful to hide their feelings so they wouldn't risk jail or worse. While the rulers and their protegees grew fat in luxury, the majority of God's chosen people bore up under backbreaking labor while struggling to provide lentils, bread and maybe a little fish for their family. In the town around Judea, mothers warned their children and shushed their embittered husbands. After all, although suffering from heavy taxation and injustice, a verbal complaint alluding to Caesar or anything else could abruptly end one's life.
In the synagogue, their respite, the written Scriptures recorded by the prophet Isaiah reminded the Chosen Ones that God promised to intervene. One day he would send his own Ruler King and set things right.
Yet, 400 years of silence had followed, testing their belief and dimming their hope. And while hope diminished, their misery increased. instead of things changing for the better, even an optimist could see that King Herod was turning paranoid and killing off his own family.
As the sun set and Bethlehem came into sight, Mary shivered on the faltering donkey. So far they had escaped robbers and wild beasts. Forced by the Roman Empire to hit the road at this most inopportune time, she bit her lips and stifled a scream. Although the dangers from without had ceased, her stomach was convulsing from within. "Help me, Yahweh."
Joseph trudged up front, entering town and knocking on doors. When he cast her a worried glance , she tried to smile but moaned instead. His brown eyes grew wide and his Adam's apple bobbed frantically.
"Don't worry. I've got this." As the last inn keeper waved him off, in a last ditch effort, he emptied his coin purse.
"Everything. I'll give you all I have for a spot on the floor."
When the man shook his head, Mary twisted in pain. As her hip slipped off the donkey, her body keeled over and hit the dirt.
"I can't go on,"she gasped. With one hand clasping his coat, Joseph stared at her white knuckled grip shuddered. All of a sudden his wife's recounting of an angel visiting and the glory of God resting upon her seemed like mockery. "Holy One: will you let your Son be born in this gutter with Mary's teen body exposed for the world to see?"
"I have a barn," the heavyset man in the barred doorway reflected out loud."
"We will take it," Joseph half carried his writhing wife to the dirt packed cave and placed her on a pile of hay. Tucked beneath his coat, Mary trembles, then screams. He watches helplessly as her body becomes a rushing torrent, pushing and propelling the Messiah into the world.
Are you, like Mary, finding yourself in unexpected circumstances beyond your control? Or perhaps you are forced to deal with a situation that exceeds your capacity and even understanding? If so, the hope ushered into the world through this woman's body still shines brightly.
May the God who sustained Mary and helped her accomplish his purposes fill you with hope and joy as you trust in Him. And regardless of circumstance, may you overflow with hope through the power of Holy Spirit as he accomplishes his purpose in you and through you.
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