Now that I'm home after an autumn of traveling to book festivals, I can focus on Christmas. I've realized something amazing. Jesus was born in conditions that would have had me, an American woman, wigging out. I mean, don't we do that? If we check into a hotel room and find that the sheets haven't been changed or the bathroom is dirty, we call the front desk in a froth while we grab our hand sanitizer. At all costs, we must keep from getting sick. It's a form of control that makes sense to a point, but consider this: Mary had to deliver her baby in a stable.
She and Joseph had no choice but to make the best of bad circumstances. The inns were crowded out. The baby was coming. Put yourself in her place. You have to take shelter amidst dust, mold, and manure. You have to lie on dirty straw, exposing your body and your baby to such germs. No soap, no hot water, no clean towels, no hand sanitizer. How clean could the swaddling cloths they used to wrap the Newborn have been, packed in a saddle bag that traveled along arid roads with dust kicked up by a donkey?
But did God allow Mary or Jesus to suffer infections? No. He saw to it they came through and stayed healthy. What's more, I believe He allowed His son to be born in that stable so that the shepherds who rushed to see what the angel had told them would have access to Jesus. Had He been born in an inn, no sane innkeeper would have let strangers parade in to his establishment to view a baby, putting his other guests in an outrage and risking his inn's security. He would have locked out the shepherds the way he locked out Mary and Joseph. But what happened instead? The angel gave the shepherds a sign and they hurried off and found it true. "You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
This little reflection doesn't mean I'm going to blow off good health practices and let my house go to pot. It's simply a reminder that when things go beyond our control, we can trust the LORD of heaven and earth to keep His hand on us and bring about His purposes. We can relax our control and trust in His, instead.
This makes the angel's song about Jesus' birth all the more personal. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2: 14 NKJV