There is nothing like walking with your grandchildren, holding their hands, and listening to their chattering about things they want to buy for Christmas while walking through the toy isles in Walmart. And at the end of it to hear them say to you, “Thank you for giving us Christmas gifts, Kung Kung.” It made me feel like the happiest and the luckiest man on earth. It made me smile for hours!
Christmas makes us—at least most of us—smile, but I doubt that Mary and Joseph were smiling when they had to travel about 94 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem either on foot or by donkey for four to five days. And I doubt that they smiled when they learned that there was no inn for them to rest that night. And I doubt that they smiled when they found out that the Baby could not wait and wanted to come out right away. Wrong time at the wrong place!
But I am certain that Mary and Joseph smiled when they saw the face of the Baby and heard His first cry. Maybe they too cried along. The long-awaited promise was finally fulfilled: Jesus the Savior was born. And their smiles were made perfect when out of nowhere came the shepherds. An angel of the Lord had appeared to them to bring them “good tidings of great joy” and directed them to go to the City of David where they would find “a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Now it was the shepherds who smiled.
Not everybody smiles at Christmas. Perhaps there were unpleasant surprises or problems at home. The wrong time, the wrong place, and perhaps, the wrong person. Whatever it was, it just zapped our spirit and joy. There is nothing to smile about; there is everything to frown about. But do not give up; God is not done. Yes, He did not give us a place to rest in an inn; instead, He directed us to a stable. But there in the stable, we will see Him and hear Him speak to us.