Joy and sorrow are opposite emotional experiences that probably all of us know throughout our lifetime. Life is like a tapestry of bright and dark colours and often the bright parts shine the brighter when set against a dark background.
I am reminded of Benjamin Malachi Franklin’s poem ‘Just a Weaver’,
(1) My life is but a weaving, between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily.
(2) Ofttimes he weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
(3) Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reasons why
(4) The dark threads are as needful in the skillful weaver's hand
As threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
The recent mining accidents in Chile and New Zealand illustrate both extremes. For the families of the thirty-three miners rescued from their mine in Chile, it was a time of great joy, but for the thirty-three families of the Pike River, New Zealand South Island miners, only two could rejoice and twenty nine were plunged into the sorrow of grief. Further explosions ripped through the mine causing the authorities to pronounce the twenty- nine miners dead and the Prime Minister to say “We are a nation in mourning.”
A video of an interview with one of the survivors revealed that he had been thrown off his machine by the blast and knocked unconscious, the other survivor picked him up and they went 300 metres to the entrance of the mine and staggered out, battered but alive.
The circumstances at each mine were different, geologically, physically and possibly spiritually. The Chile men were gold mining, the New Zealanders were coal mining with the greater danger of methane exploding from leaks in the fault line hundreds of feet below the coal seem. It was not exploding gas that endangered the miners in Chile; it was a huge rock fall that trapped them for over two months. Jose Henriquez, trapped with his colleagues is an evangelical preacher and kept their spirits up by reading the Bible every morning to them. Every man had a small bible sent down the borehole for them to read and many of them committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Above ground the Presidents Pastor held prayer times with the President and the nation prayed for the recovery of the men. What joy it was when all of them were brought up one by one in a 27-inch capsule inside a new borehole that went down to the chamber where they were trapped. Many of the men wore T-shirts expressing that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We rejoice with those that rejoice, we weep with those that weep, and therefore feel and pray for the Pike River miner’s families.
As one travels five miles south from Jerusalem on the Hebron Road, there is a left hand fork that takes you down to Bethlehem. At that fork in the road is Rachel’s tomb, the place where Jacob’s wife died in child bearing and was buried. “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Benoni means ‘Son of my sorrow’ whereas Benjamin means, ‘Son of the right hand’. Both names are an apt description of the Son of God who became the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief at Calvary, but then became the Son of the right hand when exalted in Heaven. Looking from that tomb the short distance to Bethlehem one can see the beyond the city the Shepherds fields and beyond them the mountains of Moab.
Ruth traveled with Naomi from Moab and came to those fields that belonged to Boaz. He became Ruth’s redeemer and married her and they had a son named Obed, the grandfather of King David. Ruth is one of four women named is in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew ch.1. Mary is the fifth!
When Mary and Joseph were required by Caesar Augustus’s edict to go to Bethlehem, they could have gone to a Bethlehem which was only five miles west of Nazareth, but that was the wrong Bethlehem, it was the city of David in Judah that they had to go to. Micah 5:2 reads, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
They left Nazareth and made the arduous 70 to 80 mile journey to Bethlehem. Did they travel down the valley of Jezreel or the Jordan valley? We do not know but either way would have been exhausting, especially for Mary, heavy with child. Passing Jerusalem they would arrive at the fork where Rachel’s tomb is. What thoughts would pass through Mary’s mind when she recalled Rachel’s death delivering her baby? Mary had been told concerning the baby she would deliver, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Regarding the joy of the birth of Christ the shepherds in the fields heard “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” When the wise men were seeking the place where Jesus was born, Matthew 2:10 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” When they saw the babe they worshipped Him.
It was joy for them but sorrow for the mothers that had their children murdered by Herod, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Mary’s sorrow came later at Calvary when she saw Jesus crucified but “Joy cometh in the morning” and on the first day of the week Christ arose from the dead and is alive today, able to save to the uttermost all that come to Him. You too!
Praying that you have much joy this Christmas and the coming year and that sorrows stay away from your door. God bless.