December 14, 2022
Read: Luke 2:1-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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 5:3-5
Mary did lots of travelling during her pregnancy. In her perseverance, she built character and hope.
When she first found out she was pregnant, she travelled about 100 miles to visit her cousin Elizabeth in Hebron. As Rhonda mentioned in her reflection, this was a time where Mary could learn from family about being pregnant, birthing and caring for a newborn.
After the declaration of the census, Joseph and Mary travelled about 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was no easy trip. They would have had to travel along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then over the hills surrounding Jerusalem before Bethlehem. It would take about one week to travel this distance by foot or donkey. Mary, who is heavily pregnant, would have been uncomfortable walking or sitting on the boney back of a donkey. Joseph would be responsible to protect his wife, but would also have to shoulder the grumblings of his inconvenienced fiancée
It is often in the midst of the difficulties that we grow in perseverance. Perseverance produces character which blooms into hope. (Rom 5:3-5). This past summer two of my boys spent a month on a tall ship. There was much joy in time spent in the sunrises and sunsets, sailing on the water, manning the ship and scouting out the Great Lakes. The perseverance that helped the boys endure cramped living quarters, meager culinary options and differences of opinion definitely brought the boys home with a change in character!
With perseverance Mary and Joseph travelled the road to Bethlehem together. They grew in character as they addressed the daily challenges of travel together. Mary would sense Joseph's protection and care over her and she would learn how to support and appreciate him. I would like to think that Mary and Joseph grew closer in their relationship with each other, but also in their relationship to God. As they travelled, they had opportunities to witness God's protection and provision. They had time to reflect on the Torah and marvel at the work of his hand in their lives and the love God has poured into their hearts.
As you travel on the journey to which God has called you, may you move forward with perseverance. It is not the perseverance of sheer determination, but the perseverance knowing that God has your back and He is walking right next to you. Through perseverance, God will shape your character which will blossom into hope for those around you.
Written by Wendy Stirbet