Advent is quickly advancing toward Christmas. Thanks for coming back to read these brief devotionals based on Mary’s emotions during the very first Advent season.
Shortly after my husband asked me to marry him, we wanted to share our good news with my family. The news might have been good but our timing was not! My mother had just walked in after an ten-hour day of supervising the church’s annual strawberry festival. Her hair was limp from the heat of the kitchen, her apron was covered with berry stains, her sugar-splattered shoes stuck to the linoleum floor as she walked from the kitchen to the living room. Collapsing in a soft chair, she groaned with exhaustion.
Then Gene made our exciting announcement. My mother, thinking of all the work of planning a wedding, sank deeper into the chair and moaned, “I’ll give you $1000 if you elope!”
Of course she was jesting. At least I hope she was. But when one is already tired, the idea of facing yet another major obstacle can push us beyond fatigue to burn out.
Mary, almost nine months pregnant, weary from long nights with little sleep, next learned from Joseph that they would have to uproot from Nazareth and travel 80 miles to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census. No, it couldn’t wait until after the baby was born. Mary must have felt…overwhelmed.
Traditional artists paint pictures of the Holy Family traveling to the City of David. Often Mary is seated demurely on a donkey, with Joseph leading the way. But imagine how strenuous and uncomfortable riding on such an animal would be for a woman nearing the end of her pregnancy. Donkeys can be skittish and suddenly dash this way and that. The animal’s stiff coarse hair would be scratchy. If Mary’s back did not ache already with the weight of the baby, we can be certain it protested after a long ride on a donkey. But walking was the other likely alternative, an exhausting option that would require over four days of travel.
And arriving in Bethlehem, no crowd waved palm branches to welcome Mary as they did thirty years later when her Son rode into the city. All Mary and Joseph saw were dirty, dusty, crowded streets. It was all more than most of us could handle.
Have you ever come to the end of your resources? Have you felt like you simply could not go on? Reread Isaiah 40:29-31 today: “He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.”