“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
“It was not a silent night; there was blood on the ground.
You could hear a woman cry in the alleyways that night on the streets of David’s town.
The stable was not clean and the cobblestones were cold. Little Mary full of grace, with the tears upon her face, had no mother’s hand to hold.”
These words from Andrew Peterson’s song, Labor of Love, often remind me that Joseph and Mary endured the raw drama of life in Bethlehem that night long ago. Over time, the pain, the hardship, the loneliness, the struggles – the realness of life – has faded to the wonder, the joy, the beauty and rejoicing that surround our Christmases.
But the line which says Mary “had no mother’s hand to hold” makes me realize the sacrifices that she made in being a willing servant of the Lord. The scandal surrounding her baby meant that people began to talk behind her back. She probably lost friends. Felt the stares. Her journey “with haste” to see her cousin Elizabeth, who lived a distance away, might imply that she needed the company of someone who understood. Someone who could give her comfort.
Later, she made the journey with Joseph to Bethlehem, knowing that her time to deliver was near. But she went and gave birth without her mother or other women to help her. Alone with Joseph.
In time, her little family had to travel to Egypt to keep from bearing the consequences inflicted by an evil and fearful Herod. Alone again, further from family, in a foreign country. Mary bore all these struggles because she was part of God’s plan to bring His salvation to a fallen world.
Being a faithful servant of the Lord often means enduring difficulties. Similar to Mary, many pastors’ wives leave everything behind to accompany their husbands to remote places, small towns, or small churches. For some, it may mean moving to a foreign country. Life begins again without family and without friends. They may need to travel a distance to find another woman who understands the struggles faced by a pastor’s wife and who can give encouragement and comfort.
These men and women are also part of God’s plan to herald God’s salvation to our fallen world.
But as any servant of the Lord will tell you, it is worth all the hardships. All the struggles. Even the loneliness. Because God is there. Because when we consider all that God has done for us, serving Him is the only response for someone who loves Him. Our service to Him is a labor of love.
“It was a labor of pain; it was a cold sky above.
But for the girl on the ground in the dark, with every beat of her beautiful heart, it was a labor of love.”
Labor of Love by Andrew Peterson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQZmni-oeg4
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