Week 52: Tuesday

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“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” – Billy Graham

“So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough.” – Luke 2:4-7

How far are you willing to leave your comforts for the call of God?

One of the most strenuous journey of my life was the trip to Leyte to help the Yolanda victims.  What made it so arduous?

First is travel. Hours and hours of travel. Air travel, sea travel, and land travel – in a day’s time. Travel again the next day, the third day, then the fourth day.

Add to that is a lack of sleep and rest. Traveling for hours with little to no sleep at all. 

Add to that sleepless journey is hunger. During the first trip, which is a little more than a week after Yolanda hit, we weren’t able to bring enough food with us…and it’s hard to find food everywhere.  We even saw a flock of doves at Ormoc Pier, some of them so “malnourished-looking” – a clear sign food cannot be found anywhere. When we visited Tacloban City, I had enough pocket money, but you can’t even buy a piece of candy, much more a small bottle of mineral water. Money had become so useless at that time in your pocket.

So add to that journey, thirst. 

One morning, while having almost no sleep, so tired of the travel, so hungry, so thirsty, we still unloaded 180 heavy boxes of medicines, goods and stuff from the cargo ship.

Add to that the heat of the day & the humidity of the night.

Add to that with no comfortable place to sleep over.

Add to that the mental shock of devastation of almost everything.

Add to that the hundreds and hundreds of patients that you need to attend to during the medical mission.

Add to that the almost total darkness of the night (no electricity for the whole province).

Add to that the thought of being attacked by looters and robbers.

Add to that the possibility catching of dengue, malaria, and leptospirosis yourself.

The next day, is another day just like the above.

Is this journey new to us?

Is this journey an isolated case?

Not at all!

The first Christmas was just like that…

The journey of Mary and Joseph was a difficult and dangerous one…details of their situation were not fully chronicled in the Gospel accounts.

A New Testament and biblical archeology professor described the journey (edited):

The woman is nine months pregnant. They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It was a gruelling trip because in ancient times, the most we find people traveling is 20 miles a day. The Mary & Joseph trip was very much uphill and downhill. It was not simple.  One scholar estimated that Joseph and Mary likely would have travelled only 10 miles a day because of Mary’s impending delivery.  The trip is through the Judean dessert – when it’s sunny, the heat overwhelms…when it rains, it pours.  It’s nasty, miserable. At night, it would be freezing.  Bodily protection would likely have been woolen cloaks designed for rain and snow. Under their cloaks, the ancient residents wore long robes, belted at the waist. Tube-like socks and enclosed shoes protected the feet.  The journey includes hilly trails, harsh weather. But that’s not all!  One of the most terrifying dangers in ancient Palestine was the heavily forested valley of the Jordan River. Lions and bears lived in the woods, and travellers had to fend off wild boars. Archaeologists have unearthed documents warning travellers of the forest’s dangers.  Lastly, there are bandits, pirates, and robbers in the desert.  The threat of outlaws often forced solitary travelers to join trade caravans for protection.  After finally reaching their destination after a strenuous journey, there is no place to stay. Mary gives birth in a stable.

From time to time, God purposefully takes us out of our comfort zone.

He does this so we may again depend on Him, learn from Him, see His power, experience His strength, and witness His miracles and surprises.

A time will come God will take our comforts for a purpose.

And hopefully we say, “Aye, aye Lord. Goodbye, comforts.”

“I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.” – Phillips Brooks

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