When Jesus was born to his mother Mary, there was no baby shower, no birth announcement, no balloons, no visitors in the waiting room, no facebook post. Instead there were some very unique visitors.
So [the shepherds] came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.Luke 2:16–20
Mary and Joseph then stayed in Bethlehem for about one to two years until the second group of unique visitors arrived.
On coming to the house, [Magi from the east] saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.Matthew 2:11
Any sense of safety or normalcy that Mary might have envisioned for herself and her family evaporated with the departure of the Magi.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.Matthew 2:13–15a
Thus began Mary’s life as a refugee. She fled for her life in the dead of night, lived in a foreign country, learned a foreign language, tried to keep her baby safe. And just as she was getting adjusted to Egypt, she was on the move again.
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.Matthew 2:19–23
Mary’s life was chaotic, unstable, unsafe. And even after she returned to her home country, she still lived in occupied territory. Refugee! Evacuee! Pierced!
In January 2000, I fled Lombok Island at two o’clock in the morning on a jet boat with my husband, two young sons and some teammates. We were leaving so that we would not find ourselves in the path of Muslim mobs who were systematically destroying homes and churches of Christians throughout the island. And there are many global women who are on the move constantly, who live in occupied territory, who make hard decisions to protect their children from constant danger.
Tucked away in this narrative is a wonderful statement about Mary which gives us tremendous insight into how she was able to withstand the many soul piercings she endured, including evacuation.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.Luke 2:19
Treasured (syntereo) means to remember or keep in mind lest it be forgotten and pondered (symballo) means to consider, confer with oneself or dispute mentally. Mary wrote a mental diary of everything that happened to her so she wouldn’t forget and then she tried to make sense of it by debating within herself. I believe she reminded herself again and again what the angel had told her, who her son really was, the words of Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, the miracles of her conception, Joseph’s dreams, the amazing visitors and their glorious gifts that had most likely funded their journeys.
How can we, too, not believe and trust when we treasure and ponder all God had done for us and ask him to help us understand what he is currently doing?
In what ways are you an evacuee?
How has your life been unsettled, unsafe and chaotic?
What do you need to treasure and ponder today?
Sovereign God, you are my refuge when I feel like a refugee. You are my strong tower. I run to you and I am safe (Proverbs 18:10). Help me remember all you have done for me and understand your ways.
Next in series: Anxious
For an updated version of this, please purchase Favored Blessed Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth, available on Amazon.