Naturally when I say I want it to be better, I am thinking of it being more pleasurable.
I want somehow to feel the joy of Christmas like never before.
Several years ago I began to try and understand Christmas better. I began reading through the Gospels and I bought a novella by Francine Rivers about Mary. Biblical or historical fictions are favorites of mine. In the book the author ventured to tell how Mary lived and how she might have thought. She did a very good job of taking the facts of Scripture and imagining what might have been. As I read I began to become more aware of the pain of Christmas.
The Bible says nothing of what most people believe she endured. She may have suffered rebuke from her mother and father, friends and family, not to mention Joseph’s apparent reluctance at first hearing the news of her pregnancy. What must it have been like to travel late in pregnancy, and then not be able to find a place to give birth.
There was a chapter in which the author gave a glimpse of Joseph’s thoughts at providing just a stable for his wife and the baby Christ; his prayer to God to help him be an earthly father to Emmanuel.
Our feeble imagination cannot begin to grasp the pain this love required.
Another time, the author portrayed when Joseph realized that Christ had not come as conquering King this time, but as the Lamb described in Isaiah 53.
In all of Mary’s pain she magnified the Lord, and because she gave thanks she received joy.
The pain of Christmas has made me appreciate Christmas more than all the pleasures ever could.
Pleasure rather that pain, keeps more people from knowing and believing in God, from trusting and following Christ. The pain we experience as Christians most often brings us closer to God, but our pleasure most often separates us from God. So it appears pain will not destroy our lives, but pleasure might.
This Christmas, choose your pleasures, your pastimes, and your preferences with Jesus Christ in mind and heart. Will your choice magnify the LORD?