Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Before the holiday season slips completely away, I'd like to point out the hidden pain experienced by a person central to Christmas...Mary. Mary is known through-out the world as the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible said she was "...blessed among women". But I personally believe she also lived with a great amount of emotional pain...hidden, unseen pain...the kind of pain many of us deal with daily; it can be severely debilitating, as well. Consider the era Mary lived in; a time of very distinct differences between the roles of men and women with women being distinctly subserviant to men. Also, the Jewish religion was very strict, having over 600 laws that were added to the hundreds already included in the laws of Moses!! Mary was not from a wealthy background, either, making a husband an essential part of a woman's very existence. When the angel told her she would conceive a child as a virgin, she thanked God for the honor of bringing the Messiah to Israel...and truly it was an honor above all other honors! But I have no doubt, even though the Bible says very little about her daily life, that Mary's family reacted to her "story" of an angelic message and a virgin pregnancy with the same emotions any family would...shock, panic, anger, embarrassment and maybe fear that she had lost her mind as she continued to stick to her story. If my 14 or 15 year old daughter tried to explain her oregnacy as miraculous, I might even wonder if she were trying to cover for her boyfriend in an immature, illogical way. Whatever the specifics, I have NO DOUBT that this amazing announcement was meet with VERY negative reactions. No wonder her family agreed to let her visit her relative, Elizabeth, for several months. I'm sure they wanted to curtail and delay all the malicious gossip that would surge through their little town like a tidal wave. A scandal like an illegitimate child had the potential to affect her father's income, as people would shun them because of their daughter's immoral behavior. In other words, Mary's family was in a crisi and I cannot imagine the deep hurt Mary experienced as she began to see her oarent's literally "freak-out" over her situation. The tears must have fallen for weeks as they all tried to weather the storm and Mary's joy quickly turned to deep pain. Next, as if things could not possibly get worse...her fiancé Joseph didn't believe her "angel story" either and seriously considered breaking their engagement. You see in that era being engaged or "betrothed" was as legally binding as marriage! He would have had to actually divorce her!! This was surely a devastating experience for this young woman...her own love did not believe her but thought she had betrayed him in the worst possible way! This was also very insulting as his reaction placed her in the category of a loose woman. Remember, this was over 2000 years ago; women were absolutely expected to remain virgins until marriage...to not be was catastrophic...it meant sure disgrace and ruined your chance for any decent marriage proposal. Unlike today, being unmarried left a woman in an unstable situation, having to rely on her father or brothers to take care of her...something they were not required to do and often would allow this fallen woman to languish into prostitution...the lowest if the low! Surely Mary was afraid, as well as crushed by the lack of loving support from Joseph, who KNEW she was a virtuous girl! Well, we know from the Bible that God changed Josrph's mind, and he became a loving husband and father. But I have often wondered how long it took Mary to get over the pain of his initial reaction. These types of wounds can hurt for years...hidden from view, but very painful anyway! As the years progressed, we know very little about Mary's life, but we can know some things for certain based on the societal standards of that era. For example, Jesus would have always been considered a "bastard child" and Mary a promiscuous woman. Respectable matrons would have crossed the street to avoid her and this type of shunning would have been part if her life until death. She would have endured many awkward and unpleasant moments throughout her life. Very few believed her son was the Messiah; most probably ultimately believed Jesus was conceived by Mary and Jiseoh before their marriage. Who can know all the pain and inner turmoil Mary lived with? Many live with deep hidden wounds. Often these scars were undeserved, as we are victimized by others and never given the chance to expose the truth of our situation, while some know their hidden pain is the result of their own poor decisions. Either way...PAIN HURTS!! It is a gigantic comfort for me to know that a righteous Gid rules the universe and that He has not missed a thing. God knows every hurt I have, why I hurt and will hold the "wounder" accountable for damaging me. PAYDAY SOMEDAY!!! And as far as the present is concerned, I have a God who knows all about it that I can cry to and who comforts me with His unconditional unending love! I feel certain Mary knew this...after all, her son was God incarnate...I'm sure He comforted his mother all His life and even spoke to his brother John from the cross about taking care of her! All our hidden hurts are clearly seen and understood by our Heavenly Father...run to Him for relief from the hidden pain!!