“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18-19, NIV2)
The Christmas story is far from being a story of peace and rejoicing. We have discovered that there was no room for Jesus at His birth and that Herod tried to exterminate baby Jesus early on. Today we find out that Joseph, who pledged to marry Mary, didn’t believe how Mary became pregnant. At least he didn’t want her stoned as it was the custom for infidelity, but still he had decided to get rid of her. Ouch! That sure must have hurt Mary. Not only did he not believe her, he wanted her away!
But then, Christmas now-a-days is also not a day of rejoicing for many of us, for many spend Christmas all alone. No one invites us! We guess we are on the unwanted list. Maybe there is even a price on our heads!
We may feel like the Jews living in Germany and Austria when Hitler rose to power. It is true that these Jews had it far worse than any of us! Early on the Jews started to lose many of their rights. They were banned from trams, from swimming in the public swimming pool, and even their bikes were confiscated. In addition, they were all forced to wear a yellow star that brought insults from any Nazis encountering them.
No wonder half of the Jews from Germany and Austria ran away from their homeland! They were not only totally rejected, they were ridiculed as well. Who knows what would happen to them next! Their purpose was to find a safe haven. Many tried to be escape to either North or South America to get as far away as possible from this nightmare. Most never realized their dreams, as obtaining a visa for so many was quite difficult. No one was there to defend them!
Some tried to hide themselves from the scrutiny of Hitler’s fanatics, like the Franks. When they heard reports about the deportation of Jews to forced labour camps in Germany, they decided to hide. If they could not escape from the Nazis, why not hide under their very noses!
On Monday, July 6th, 1942, they moved to their hiding place at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam with the Van Pels. Wearing as many clothes as possible and carrying two heavy backpacks each, they entered the upper floors at the back of the building. Here they would hide for more than two years before they were denounced and arrested by the Nazis. For two years they couldn’t go outside, and for two years they had to try to make as little noise as possible. Two years where each day was another threat!
They are the ones who truly experienced total rejection. Can you imagine not only being rejected, but to be so hated that most people would prefer to see you dead?
Anyone who feels completely rejected during the upcoming Christmas season will understand. Maybe it’s time for us to review the original story of Christmas, for it contains large amounts of rejection and persecution.
But the good news is, it also contains hope. Christmas, after all, is a story of hope. The Son of the Most High left His kingdom behind for the sole purpose of coming to Earth to bring us hope. We had erred and lost our way. He came to lead us back to God, who is not a God of rejection, but a God of genuine love. And He sure loves us! His arrival was a direct proof that God was not the One who rejected us. He would do anything for us to feel His genuine love.
The Franks, too, had hope. Hope to survive their ordeal, hope that their love towards each other would be enough to endure their isolation.
Our hope through the Christmas story is real. Though rejected and ridiculed, and chased for the only purpose of extermination, Jesus came for us. That’s how much He loves us.
You may feel alone during Christmas day, but truly you are not. The One who truly loves you is with you and will never, ever abandon you. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20b, KJV)
For those of us who are fortunate enough to celebrate this special day with others, let’s remember those who are less privileged than we are. After all Jesus did not come to our planet to be glorified, but He freely gave up all His rights to bring us hope.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, KJV)
(To access the entire “Christmas for the Brokenhearted” devotional series, please click here.)