Hesitantly, she took a deep breath. She wasn’t sure if the pain that had consumed her swollen belly was really over. Relief swept over her when the searing pain did not return, and she laughed to herself as she realized that everything her mother said about childbirth was true. In the same moment, she was overcome with grief that her mother and the rest of her family couldn’t be there for the birth of her son. Her soon-to-be-husband, Joseph, slept soundly on a makeshift bed made out of bundles of hay with one hand in the manger holding their baby boy’s little hand. She smiled to herself and took a mental picture. This was a moment she wanted to remember forever.
When her father told her of the betrothal she wasn’t sure if she could ever really love this man but on the journey here, he revealed his heart to her. The journey here was long and tiring, especially for a young girl who was extremely pregnant. Joseph took care of her every step of the way. He helped her get on and off the small mule they had brought with them, he sacrificed his own food for her and the baby, and he stayed awake most nights protecting her and keeping her comfortable which wasn’t an easy job. Even though her new life with this man was unfamiliar, she was learning to love him and she knew that he loved her too. Their future together seemed uncertain after the news of the baby on the way but God had His hand in that. She knew that this was what God had already planned for her before she was even born. It wasn’t at all what she had hoped for or what she expected but it was going to be okay and it was good because her God was good.
It was late and the animals had gone to sleep now that the excitement was over. She was finally alone with her thoughts and her prayers. Needing some fresh air and to look at something other than barn animals in a cramped stable, she gently lifted her baby out of the manger, went outside and gazed at the stars. It seemed as if they twinkled and danced with great joy at his arrival. She gazed into his sleepy eyes and whispered, “Hello, my King. Its your mommy.” She gently kissed his head, sat down, and leaned against the stable. Resting her head against the wall and the baby against her legs, they gazed at the sky greeting him in the night. She was exhausted and full of joy and anticipation. Yet, at the same time, she was filled with anxiety and worry. She vaguely knew what the future would hold for her sweet baby boy and she knew that her and Joseph were responsible for raising the Savior of the world. Her eyes brimming with tears at the thought she looked at her baby. “I love you,” she said. “Will you love me too?” All of sudden, every question she wanted to ask him came spilling out of her. “Why did this happen to me? What do I do next? I don’t know how to be a mother! What will people say about us once we’re home? I don’t know that I can do this by myself but there’s nothing that anyone could say that will make me stop loving you. Oh, if only you knew how much we love you.” He cooed and wiggled his little legs in response to his mother’s voice. Her heart leapt for joy and tears began to roll down her cheeks. She whispered to her baby boy, “This is not at all what I expected. Honestly, this is not what I wanted. But now that you’re here, I have hope that this will be far more wonderful than anything I could have ever dreamed. But at the same time, this will be so much harder than the worst thing I could’ve imagined. But to know you forever, sweet boy, it will all be worth it.”
She dried her eyes, tried to compose herself, and looked back up at the stars. “Yahweh, my God, how are we going to do this? How are we going to raise Your son? We’re not perfect, God! Why did You choose us? Why did You choose me to carry this sweet burden? I am just a girl!” She opened her mouth to speak again but she heard the stable door open. Joseph had heard her from inside the stable and had stepped outside to see what was going on. Hearing her words and seeing the tears that had found their way down her cheeks, he looked up at the sky and began to speak.
“We can’t do this alone, God. We can’t. But You are good and You are faithful. You have provided for us so far and I know You will provide for us again. Lord, You know our hearts and You hear our prayers. Give Mary strength, Lord. She has sacrificed so much. Give me grace and peace, Father. You know I need it.” He got on his knees beside her and reached for her hand. Without hesitation, she interlocked her fingers with his and their eyes met. She was relieved when she saw both joy and sorrow in his eyes. It was a great honor that their God had chosen them for this but it also cost them both a lot. It hurt their reputation. It hurt their relationships with their friends and family. The only person in the world who knew exactly how she was feeling right this moment was kneeling beside her holding her hand.
Joseph shifted from his knees to sitting with his legs crossed beside her and he gently kissed her forehead. As he leaned up against the stable, he began to think about all that had happened ever since he agreed to marry Mary. He knew he loved her fiercely and his cheeks turned red with shame and embarrassment when he remembered the anger he felt when he almost divorced the sweet girl sitting next to him. He began to pray silently for continued grace and peace and strength. As he was praying, a name came to mind. He knew that it was to be the name of their son. His eyes welled up with tears and he wasn’t sure if it was from happiness or sorrow or exhaustion. He could feel Mary watching him intently and knew exactly was she was about to ask him. Squeezing his hand tightly, Mary asked, “Joseph, are you okay? What’s wrong?” He looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. He didn’t want her to hear his voice tremble.
“His name is Jesus,” Joseph replied softly. He took another deep breath and looked at Mary. Tears were quietly streaming down her face. Jesus. There was just something about that name. Jesus. They both knew that he had come to save the world from its sins but what that looked like, they weren’t sure. In the lap of a young girl laid the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Holding her hand was a man who was not the father of this King but would love him fiercely and protect him like a father should. They were both exhausted and filled with mixed emotions but they knew one thing was for sure: God was good and He would provide not only their physical needs but also their emotional and spiritual needs.
Mary leaned her head back against the stable and closed her eyes. She needed to rest but didn’t want to leave this moment with her baby and the man promised to her. A few moments passed and her breathing deepened as she dosed off. Joseph smiled and gently lifted Jesus off of her legs. He took him back inside and laid him in the manger. He came back outside where Mary was sleeping and carefully lifted her and carried her inside. He laid her on the bed where he was sleeping before. He sat down beside Mary and watched her sleep. As he watched her sleep, he was in awe of her beauty. He hadn’t really noticed it before. He loved Mary because he knew her heart and knew that she was exactly what he had prayed for in a wife. He wanted to be the man that she had prayed for and then put his hand softly on her shoulder. He began to pray over her intensely, “Lord God, I have prayed for this woman for my whole life. I have cried, I have searched, and I have begged. When You gave her to me, I did not know what You had planned for us. When You revealed Your plan to her, I was embarrassed and ashamed and wanted nothing to do with her. For that, I am sorry. Now, God, we’re here and I couldn’t be more happy and scared at the same time. If I’m scared, I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that is in her. Lord, right now, I ask You to remove all fear and uncertainty from her mind. I ask that You give her peace, strength, and joy. This was the easy part. Things are about to get interesting and I want her to be strong, have faith and joy unspeakable, even on the disheartening days.” He paused and listened carefully to her breathing. His voice had elevated as he prayed and was worried that he had woken her up. Not wanting to risk waking her, he continued to pray silently and moved to the wall closest to the entrance of the stable. He took a deep breath, leaned his head against the wall, closed his eyes, and tried to get some rest.
I am currently a student learning more about life and Jesus' marvelous love and boundless grace.