I remember back in 2010 when Crystal and I took our first trip to China together. It was a long journey and though we really did not do much but sit most of the time, we were exhausted by the time we finally got to Beijing. There was also something that made things complicated and difficult: Crystal was 7 months pregnant! She did not complain about it but I know that for much of the journey she was uncomfortable.

That was back in 2010 where we traveled in relative comfort. It took less than a day in travel and it was on an airplane that was climate controlled. I cannot imagine the journey that Mary and Joseph had to make. From Nazareth to Bethlehem was roughly eighty miles and it most likely took four days. Then add to that Mary being nine months pregnant and I cannot imagine how difficult that journey could have been.

Finally arriving in Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay. Again, adding to the frustration of having just traveled so long to now having no place to rest. This trip was not already not an enjoyable one and now they just added more discomfort to it. There was only one place to go and that was to a stable. It was in this stable that Mary gave birth.

All of that trouble. All of those problems all led to this event – the birth of the Savior. It is only in trials and conflicts that joy can be seen clearly. If we do not have these problems, then we have nothing to which we can compare our joy.

We romanticize the Christmas story in so many ways that it seems troublesome but not so bad. This was no easy journey from the announcement Mary received that she would have the child till the time that child would carry a cross up a hill to die on it. But it was out of great pain that great joy is seen. May we never forget the problems we have are obstacles in our lives. Those problems may be what show the great joy that God has for us.

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