Merry Christmas to you all!!! I hope that today is full of joy and wonder and precious moments for you as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour! And as a small Christmas gift to you all, here is the last part of He Found Favour in Her. 😉 Click here to read Part 5: The Journey
Night had fallen like a blue velvet blanket over the town of Bethlehem. The day had been loud and busy, the little town was full to bursting with travellers coming for the census. Now, all was quiet, the sleeping people were tucked away in houses and inns.
However, in one house, it was not quiet.
A middle-aged women was ordering two men around. “Joseph, get the animals out, and tie them up outside!” “Benjamin, go for old Sarah the midwife!” A flurry of activity was happening, men hustling animals out the door, the animals protesting at the rush, and the woman rushing around the main room grabbing items of importance.
Amidst all of the activity, Mary sat quietly on a stool, eyes closed, only her white lips and lined forehead giving away that she was in labour. Three sheep and a cow were being herded out by her worried-looking husband Joseph, and an older man rushed out the door, pulling on his cloak as he went.
A sleepy looking woman stuck her head through the door on the far corner of the room. “What’s happening? Rebecca?”
“It’s Mary’s time.” answered the older woman over her shoulder, as she bent over a box in the opposite corner.
“Oh, do you need my help? Or this room?” The women blearily rubbed her eyes, her sagging figure betraying her exhaustion due to their long journey just finished that evening. Joseph and Mary had given up the small guest room to their cousin Tamar’s family, since they had 4 small children, and were in more need of it than them. They had moved into the main room with their Uncle Benjamin and Aunt Rebecca, along with the family animals that roomed there during the night.
“No, no Tamar. We’ll be fine in this room.” Rebecca hurriedly replied, as she gathered up an armful of linens. “Old Sarah the midwife is coming, so we don’t need you. You go back to bed.”
“Alright. Get me if you need anything.” Tamar disappeared back into the other room, shutting the door behind her.
“Ohhhhh…” Mary groaned softly and rocked back and forth. The pains were gripping her body with greater intensity now, like bands of iron tightening around her belly.
“Right, nearly ready now.” said Rebecca, bustling around with blankets, water and whatnot.
“Thank you, Aunt Rebecca. You are very kind…” Mary sucked in a sharp breath as another pain gripped her.
“Oh, it’s nothing. You’re family! And here comes old Sarah now…” Rebecca turned to greet the hunched over old woman, escorted by Benjamin. “Thank you for coming, Sarah.”
“’Ah, tis nothing.” Sarah responded, her voice raspy with age. She went over to where Rebecca was laying out herbs to be boiled and conferred with her in low tones.
“Mary?” Joseph’s dark head poked through the doorway. “Can I see her?” he questioned.
“Yes, but just for a moment. Then out you go!” Rebecca nodded her assent.
Joseph quickly covered the distance between him and Mary, and knelt down beside her.
“Mary.” That one word conveyed many feelings. Concern, excitement, love. He took her hand in his, squeezing it, and gently brushed a curling tendril of hair off her damp forehead.
“Joseph…” Mary smiled up at him gently, her hand clenching his tightly. “He will be here soon. Our Messiah, the promised one who will save our people.” she murmured.
“Just as the angel said…” Joseph replied, smiling back at his labouring wife.
“Yes… Ohhhhh!” Mary groaned as another pain gripped her with intensity.
“Right, out you go now Joseph! And you too Benjamin. You go watch over the animals.” Rebecca ordered.
“I love you Mary.”
“I love you too.” A last squeeze of the hands and a smile was exchanged. Then Joseph and Benjamin were shooed out into the night, leaving the two women and Mary alone in the room.
Mary could feel her belly contracting, as her body laboured to bring her child into the world. A wave of pain broke over her, only to be followed by another and another. She moaned again, letting her pain have a voice.
“That’s right.” A faraway voice broke through her haze of pain and concentration. “Your body knows what it is doing, just let it do what it needs to do.” Mary squinted through pain-glazed eyes to see the old woman, Sarah bending over her, smiling kindly.
“Thank you.” she managed to gasp out before another pain tightened in her belly. Time moved onwards, as her labour dragged. The pain was unrelenting and nearly overwhelming. A mist seemed to descend on her, as if she was in some sort of a dream. Phrases pierced in her brain, before fading into nothing. “Do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God…” “I too have seen an angel!” “You will bear a child….he will save your people from their sins.” “We will bear this together…” “Nothing is impossible with God.” “I love you Mary.” A sharp pain, bringing with it the strong urge to push brought her out of her haze.
“Ohhhh…ayiiiii!” She pushed hard, straining to bring her child into the world. Time and time again she pushed, for what seemed like hours. A black thought crept into her mind.
I can’t do this. She felt drained of all strength, unable to push any longer.
Lord God! She sent a silent, desperate cry for help up to heaven. Help me!
With one last effort Mary gathered all her remaining strength together and strained with all she had in her. A sharp cry broke from her lips as her son entered into the world. She instinctively reached down and scooped up the baby up into her arms. Sweat and tears mingled and ran down her cheeks as she stared into the tiny face of her son. Wet and screaming, he was the most beautiful child she had ever seen.
This was the expected Saviour of her people, the promised Messiah, the miracle child that she had carried in her womb for 9 long months.
Wonder and awe filled her heart. God had found favour in her, to bear his Son. This was God made flesh in her arms.
Then, gently old Sarah took the baby from Mary. “Let me clean him up for you, my dear. I’ll be right back…” While Sarah was dealing with the baby, Rebecca cleaned Mary up, helping her into a clean robe, and settling her on a pallet filled with straw. Sarah brought the baby back to Mary, snugly wrapped in strips of cloth. Mary eagerly welcomed the tiny, screeching bundle back into her arms, and then watched in awe as he immediately rooted around until he found what he was looking for and the then quietened as he began to feed.
“Aunt Rebecca, will you please bring Joseph in now?” she asked.
“Of course. Joseph?” Rebecca called out into the dark. “You have a son!”
Immediately Joseph’s tall frame appeared in the doorway.
“Mary!” he rushed to her side, and knelt down beside her. “Oh Mary!” he laughed with joy. “He’s here!”
“Yes, he is here!” she smiled back at him, her heart full to bursting with happiness. “Our long-awaited deliverer and Saviour is here.” All that Mary and Joseph were aware of was the tiny baby suckling at Mary’s breast. No words were spoken, but volumes of words were exchanged through the couple’s eyes. Words of hope and joy, of love and peace.
When the baby was finished eating, Mary handed him to Joseph, who gently placed him in a wooden manger filled with straw that was standing nearby. Joseph smiled as the baby squirmed sleepily in the straw.
“The Messiah, lying in a manger… Who would have dreamed?”
“Only God.” Mary gently responded. Her heart was full. This child was the answer to her people’s prayers, the fulfilment of a promise. God had become a human. Her son was God’s rescue plan in person. He was here.
“You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph softly said.
“Jesus… He will save his people.” Mary gently laid a hand on the sleeping baby.
This was the Messiah, the Saviour… of the world.
So that does it – He Found Favour in Her is officially finished! I’ve so enjoyed sharing this story with you, and I hope that it has resonated in some way with you this past week. So for now, I hope you have a very merry Christmas, and I will be back as usual on Saturday!
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” – Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7