Has it ever occurred to you how many holiday traditions sterilize the historical truth of Christmas?
This time of year, the joy of the season is everywhere. There are lights and decorations; the smell of cookies, pies, and freshly cut Christmas trees; and music that remind us of snow, sleighs, and reindeer.
But all of that beautiful imagery stands in stark contrast to the difficult circumstances surrounding the very first Christmas. Consider the lives of three women who lived it: Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna.
Jesus’ mother Mary, the central figure in His birth, is often depicted as an adult with the wisdom of an older woman who enjoyed the respect of her community. That wasn’t the case. Mary was a young, unmarried, teenage girl who became pregnant under scandalous conditions. And her story of an angel’s visit and a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit would have been unbelievable to say the least. She not only faced ridicule, according to Mosaic Law, she could have been considered an adulteress, and Joseph – her husband-to-be – could have had her stoned to death.
Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was the wife of Zacharias, a priest, one of the most important positions in the Jewish community. She and Zacharias were righteous in the sight of God. Yet, after years of dedication to the Lord, Elizabeth remained barren, a tremendous stigma in that culture.
Then there’s Anna. Anna lost her husband as a young woman and endured as a widow for decades.
A young girl, a middle-aged woman, and an elderly woman – all three had plenty of reason to lose hope and to question God’s faithfulness. Yet, each remained faithful, and the Lord worked mightily in and through them. As the angel Gabriel assured Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
The first Christmas wasn’t about hot cocoa and mistletoe. It was about the Son of God entering into our pain and struggle to bring hope and eternal salvation.
On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Seeing Christmas Through Women’s Eyes,” author Liz Curtis Higgs is talking with us about how Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna put their trust in Christ, waited for His timing, and clung tenaciously to the belief that regardless of our circumstances, God is intimately involved in our lives. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.
If you’re having an especially rough time this Christmas season and hope is hard for you to come by, know that we’re here for you. We have counselors who are waiting to talk with you. Call us at 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). Let us pray with you and offer some resources that can help or refer you to a counselor in your area.
You may also be interested in a free online booklet we’ve written called, “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family,” which explains what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Liz Curtis Higgs has written a book called The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. It’s available from Focus for a gift of any amount. Visit our website. If you can help Focus on the Family with a gift, know that your donation will be doubled for twice the impact in helping others through this ministry. Our thanks to generous donors who’ve made that possible.