If you’re like most of us, you wish 2020 would go away and leave a clean slate for next year. The human race has a way of eventually overcoming obstacles and getting on with life.
Did you know that life today reflects what it was at the first Christmas? The culture back then was filled with disappointed people. Disappointed the Roman Empire made things inconvenient. Frustrated they had to travel so far just to pay taxes and be counted for a census. Puzzled about the way it might affect their day-to-day lives.
Sound familiar? In the past several months, we haven’t enjoyed being told where to go and when. We haven’t appreciated the inconveniences.
A young couple named Mary and Joseph experienced similar emotions.
Imagine being a teenage girl, as Mary no doubt was, and looking forward to a nice wedding. Then imagine having to break the news to your fiancé that you are expecting a baby—and he isn’t the daddy. And yet you’re still a virgin.
The puzzled couple probably had a quiet, private ceremony, like some people this year had to do because of the pandemic.
Imagine being almost ready to deliver that special baby--God's son-- when the government said you need to travel 90 miles to pay your taxes and be counted. And you didn’t relish the thought of walking the whole way or riding on the back of a donkey in your condition.
Imagine arriving at the place the government told you to go, only to find no place to sleep. And you are ready to deliver the baby. Imagine stumbling into a smelly, dirty stable—perhaps even, a cave, since wood was hard to come by in Israel.
Our impressions of the first Christmas have been conditioned by watching church plays with well-scrubbed little boys in their dads’ bathrobes and stuffed animals playing the part of live ones. It wasn’t like that the first time. Real animals left droppings on the floor and snuffled and stomped.
Imagine dropping onto a pile of hay and giving birth without your mother or a midwife. Imagine wishing God’s gift to the world could be born in a clean, nice place instead of a smelly stable. Imagine feeling lonely and a little bewildered, surrounded by strangers in a city where you don’t know anyone. Life in crisis.
Despite our crises, those of us in 2020 have a lot for which to be thankful. Our way of life had to be adjusted, yes. We have been inconvenienced. So were Mary and Joseph. Just as this young couple were at times bewildered by unfamiliar circumstances, we have felt baffled by ours.
This Christmas is a time when we see life differently than we did a year ago. Just imagine how we might be running the same hampster wheel of overactivity today, had the pandemic not slowed us down. Imagine the family time we might have missed. Imagine the unseen blessings which have come from adversity. Adversity builds character.
Just imagine. Perhaps we need to see how blessed we have been after all.
What about you? Any thoughts on the past year or the new one? Feel free to comment below.