Discovering goodness in difficulty

A personal reflection of the nativity story

A special baby born in a barn

Could you imagine being in labour, about to give birth and the hospital said there were no beds available and that you couldn’t come in? What if this was the third hospital you had tried and now there was no time because the baby is coming?

This was the reality faced by Mary and Joseph. They had been forced to go back to their hometown to register and being pregnant was not a reason to disobey the law.

They will have been stressed from the journey with Mary heavily pregnant, probably hungry, tired and very uncomfortable. Joseph is just trying to do what’s right and feeling the burden of accepting that his bride is pregnant with a baby that isn’t his, knowing he still has to find a place for them to stay after their long travels.

Things did not go to plan!

Despite their best efforts, the only place they could find to have their baby was an old shed where animals had been living. It would have been cold, dirty dark and the worst possibly place to give birth.

This did not change the fact that their baby was divine. He was from God. He was God. And they were specially chosen by God to look after this very special child that would one day save the world.

Working through relationship problems

It’s strange to think that the parents of Jesus had relationship problems! At Christmas we see pictures of Jesus’ family. Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by cute animals, some farm hands and royalty.

Mary and Joseph had their own challenges during the pregnancy and birth of Jesus. Let’s be realistic; if a man found out his young bride was pregnant and the baby wasn’t his, the wedding would be cancelled, and the bride would be accused of having an affair.

This is what Mary and Joseph faced and the bible tells us the Joseph planned to divorce her quietly (Matthew chapter 1:18-20), which would have made Mary a single mother. Not the perfect start for a special baby who was the son of God.

Relationship issues can make us feel like we failed or that our family is imperfect because it doesn’t look like the Christmas images of smiling families, sitting around dinner tables, looking at brightly lit Christmas trees with children eager to open their presents.


If we look at these things from another perspective, we can see how God made sure that every one of us could identify with the Christmas story.

Here are some takeaways to help us identify the good in the middle of our chaos

  • Bad stuff happens – we all know this and have our own experiences with relationships both positive and negative. What we need to remember is that sometimes, things that happen are outside of our control, not anyone’s fault and part of our life journey.

If we could respond like Mary and accept support and kindness from others in a time of difficulty or be like Joseph and take on extra burdens and responsibilities to support a relationship – we could see something beautiful emerge born from a difficult situation.

  • Humble beginnings – we often suffer from the curse of jealousy. Social media influences our thinking to believe that everyone’s life is somehow better than ours. But what if the picture isn’t the reality?

Despite the difficult circumstances, God wanted to bless Mary (Luke 1:28) and she became a world-respected mother to Jesus Christ. Joseph became a great father with at least 7 children (including Jesus) and built a family business that he passed on to his children.

  • A higher purpose – it can be hard to see what positive things can come from difficult situations and this is part of life’s journey we all have to go through. The good news is that we don’t have to go through it alone and God will send people to encourage you and help you to see the positive and divine things that you are unable to.

God sent angels to Mary and Joseph to let them know that the situation they were in was part of a bigger plan and would bless them. I believe that God sends help to all who need it and if we open our eyes and ears, there will be someone in our life to bring us a message of hope, good news and blessing.

Consider this your first message of hope from someone who loves you. No matter what you are going through this Christmas period, I want you to remember that today is only a part of the journey. No matter how bad it is, God is able to make amazing things despite the terrible conditions.

I also want to you remember that a humble beginning can be the start of something amazing! If you or someone you know needs support for any reason during this Christmas period, then please contact us or one of the organisations below.

Merry Christmas!

Donna Ward

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