Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday December 7, 2008

[Joseph] went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, Luke 2:5-6.

I guess it was inevitable that our devotional guide would eventually get to Christmas, and I note that the coming days are filled with similar reminders. Naturally, this text is meant to remind us of the unmatched gift of God’s Son to the world that first Christmas. But it is fitting that it also carries a reminder of the pain of life as well. The baby was conceived out of wedlock—small potatoes these days, but carrying an enormous stigma in the Jewish culture of the day. The pain that this baby was to bear for our sin was already being reflected, not only in Mary’s pain of childbirth, but also in the ostracism that she would have received from most people around her.

By the age that Ann and I are now, few escape without pain of some sort. And that pain, whether caused by the degrading of relationships or decay of our bodies, has the curse of sin and death as its source. Knowing this, the Christian shouldn’t be the one who questions “why me” when it occurs—in fact, quite the reverse: asking “why me” when we escape without pain? It should be a source of continuing gratitude if we are blessed sufficiently to go through life without that experience.

Our mental well-being depends on how we react to the difficulties of life. If we recognize that adversity will almost certainly find us at some point in life, the better prepared we will be to face it and the less it will disrupt or lives and those around us. But of inestimable value for confronting the barbs of life is the knowledge that our lives are in God’s hands. Then, not only is there a meaning to life as a whole, but our suffering is not meaningless and he will bring us through it. However long it may seem, this life is temporary, our future with him is not.

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