She sat still as a statue, looking straight ahead. The news was still fresh-only hours old. Tears filled her eyes. Her daughter, in the next chair, was numb as well-but being a teenager, did not keep the tears in.
The woman’s husband had just that morning gotten word of his layoff. It was always possible, half-expected, but now a reality. So many things were going through the family’s minds. The father-a sense of loss, the mother-thoughts of the coming holidays, trying to be strong for all the others. The daughter was a caring young lady. Her tears were for her parents’ devastation. The son, at school, hadn’t registered it yet.
I have to tell you that we were broken-hearted for this little family. So many in our area have experienced the same thing. We all, in some way, have been affected by the loss of coal.
I hugged them both, bringing fresh tears. One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9 and keep it written on little cards. I gave each lady one, encouraging them to trust in the Lord, telling them that the best stories in the Bible had started out the scariest.
At our office, we begin every day with prayer. (When you work with kids, I would recommend it.) We pray for our patients and parents. We prayed for the family in crisis-new tears all around.
After the teen was seated, each one of us offered comforting words, hugs and tears. (I was glad that on this day, we were their first stop.)
One of the first thoughts we have when there’s news like this is “the holidays are coming!’ The family automatically thinks of gifts for their kids, then there’s the big Christmas dinner. It’s expensive, too!
For a moment, I thought back to the mid 80’s. My beloved had been laid off then. It was a hard time financially, and for him-mentally, too. He felt like he had failed. Thankfully it was just the two of us at the time. God used that difficult time to direct us to a different place…where we needed to be.
And then I remembered a young couple from a long, long time ago! They were in a tough place, as well. She was already very pregnant, which was a complicated story. Suddenly, a financial burden was thrust upon them that threw them for a loop right at the holidays, too…
Mary and Joseph had already endured a rough beginning. She was great with child and now a pagan emperor had imposed a tax on everyone. The paying of the taxes was not only a hardship but it required a difficult trip to Bethlehem-70 miles away! Taking great with child on the road made it tougher! On the donkey, off the donkey-there was no comfortable position!
Then finally, finally, when they reached Bethlehem, there was no place to stay! (I’m pretty sure the Bible left out the emotional break down Mary had at that moment. I picture her in jerky sobs being led gently to the stable by Joseph.)
We try to keep it together for those around us. I can hear him saying, “See, Mary, it’ll be fine. We have hay for you to lie down on. It’ll be fine.” While inside, his brain was pounding. When they were all tucked in…for just a moment there was rest…an exhale that at least they were safe and dry, out of the night air.
That’s when the pains started. At first they were light and then suddenly full force. What would they do?! That night they learned for the first time something we now say when WE are in crisis: If God brings you to it; He will bring you through it. They both knew Scriptures passed down through generations. Did they say, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You,” like I do now?!
That night-that C-R-A-Z-Y night, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Prince of Peace, was born. There in the hay, in the chaos, on a dark night, in a dark world. The world that so needed Him…and we still do!
So…if this Christmas, you are great with child, in a financial crisis or somewhere you don’t want to be, remember that God’s GPS and clock are different than ours. He is writing our story today, tomorrow and the days after that. Some days are fun and exciting, while others are nail-biters. We have a choice, just like Mary and Joseph did. We can worry ourselves to death trying to work things out in our minds and on our own, or we can believe that God really does know what He is doing and trust Him.
Did Mary and Joseph remember and say one of my other favorite verses? Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your way acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I want to think they did!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.