Christmas Eve found me sitting behind a table with a sign on the front, offering prayer to those who wanted someone to pray with them or for them. As the quiet, instrumental Christmas carols played in the background, my heart cried out, “What if I am the one who needs prayer?”

Having recently come through a season of suffering, sorrow, and loss, Christmas did not hold the same anticipation and thrill as it did in other years. Sending Christmas cards seemed empty as all I could think of was that phrase, “and baby” would be missing from the line of our family’s names. I still enjoyed buying gifts for each person, but my heart ached as I pushed my cart past the baby section and the presents that would never be. I smiled and held my friend’s Christmas miracle all the while wondering what mine would have looked like.

When I paused to reflect on the Christmas story, I was struck by how much suffering, sorrow, and loss was mingled with joy. How was Mary received by her family and friends when it was obvious she was pregnant and unmarried? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can only imagine she didn’t have much of a support group outside of her cousin Elisabeth and groom-to-be Joseph.

What was her journey like at nine months pregnant on a donkey over rough roads? The discomfort and aches much have only added to the pain she endured emotionally from those who misunderstood the situation. Giving birth in a stable, laying her precious newborn in a manger, perfect strangers arriving mere hours later to greet her baby – it is really beyond my imagination and comprehension. Running for their lives to another country in the middle of the night is nothing I can relate to either. On top of that, knowing that a whole city of baby boys age two and under were killed because of her baby must have been crushing.

No doubt, Mary’s whole life was full of sorrow and misunderstanding. Yet the only response the Bible records is her willingness to be used by God; however, He chose. She praised and magnified God. She was at peace with the fact that her earthly life would be less than ideal. Her focus was on God’s amazing grace and His promise of a Messiah bringing hope and eternal life.

I can only assume Mary lived a life of poverty based on the sacrifice she and Joseph offered at Jesus’ birth. Joseph is not mentioned again after Jesus is twelve years old. At some point before Jesus’ death on the cross, she became a widow. Knowing how the locals treated Jesus during His ministry years, I can only imagine the treatment Mary received as His mother. Through all of this, she remained faithful to God!

As we move into the New Year tomorrow, my prayer is that I will be like Mary, willing for God to use me; however, He chooses. That I will be at peace with my earthly life being less than ideal and I will choose to praise and magnify Him. Thank you, God, for sending your Son Jesus Christ, the author, and finisher of my faith. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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