By Kaylie Hodges, Contributing Writer
Pregnant. Engaged, but not yet married. Traveling hard roads. No room to lodge. Giving birth. Feeding troughs.
We’ve heard the story so many times it’s easy to miss the hardship. I remember traveling in a car without air conditioning for five hours when I was big pregnant; I was left a weary miserable mess by the time I stumbled out of the car.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about a miraculous pregnancy, about a celestial birth experience.
“He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
It says only that she was pregnant and that she gave birth. The absence of any supernatural description of the pregnancy and birth of Jesus leaves us to believe that it was just as earthly and human as Mary herself.
Which means it hurt. Her back hurt, her stomach hurt, and her feet were swollen. There was blood. Everywhere. And that night was probably anything but silent, because pain cries out. Suffering is rarely silent.
But suffering is an interesting thing. It is a catalyst for focus. It is sweeps aside all uneccessary elements of mental, physical, and spiritual being and forces a person to depend on only the portions that constitute survival.
So what do we find there? When everything unessential is swept away?
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Hope. Hope moves us forward. Hope changes our very character into the image of God.
It is easy in our daily life to get it backwards; to try to glean some hope from peace. We grasp desperately for peaceful circumstances, a smooth road, so that we can feel hopeful about where our journey is taking us.
We find truth in the opposite though. We get our peace from hope.
A bumpy road forces us to see what Paul describes in Romans, it takes us down the same kind of road that Mary and Joseph had to travel.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
Suffering shows us His love pouring out. When all else is swept away we find that we are carried on a tidal wave of God’s love. We are carried through with eyes fixed clearly on our Heavenly Hope.
This kind of hope doesn’t stop when the road gets hard, it proves itself in those painful moments.
Our suffering clears our vision so that we can endure. Our endurance rides on a wave of character. Our character presses deeply into God’s love. There we find our hope. The hope Mary knew. The only real hope.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
Look up. Let the Holy Spirit sweep aside the distractions. Let hope carry you on a wave of God’s love. Today let’s put our hope in the One who does not end.
Thank you to Kaylie Hodges for contributing this article to the #RealHope series.
Kaylie writes for her blog and is the founder and owner of SentPrints at KaylieHodges.com
This article is part of the #RealHope blog series and Hope Is Holiday Devotional Study.
For information regarding our current and future studies, visit our Bible study page.