By Rachel R.
There came a point in my childhood where I became so ill that a long hospital stay was needed. It was a common occurrence because of my chronic health condition, but this time I remember being heartbroken because I would be hospitalized over Christmas. My favorite holiday could have ended up being devastating—being trapped within confined boundaries, having my schedule compacted with medical treatments and tests, visits by overbearing practitioners, and not having enough sleep. To top it off, I would miss the exciting Christmas festivities outside the hospital.
In the Christmas story in the Bible, we read that Mary “brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Joseph and Mary wished to provide the best place for the Son of God to be born, but their intended plans were changed through circumstance. Although it must have been difficult and daunting for Mary that Jesus was born in a manger, we can remember our Redeemer was born in the humblest of circumstances. What could have been an upsetting, troubling time became the beautiful and powerful welcoming of the Savior of the world.
I remember praying with my family about going into the hospital over Christmas, and the answer we received helped us know it was best to become well enough again. Although it was a sacrifice and unintended change of standard Christmas tradition, it ended up being one of the most memorable Christmases for my family and me. My parents reserved a conference room in the hospital. They lined the table with a large assortment of food. We decorated the palm tree in the corner with lights and décor. We watched the parade on television and opened an assortment of gifts. The service given from the doctors, nurses, and strangers who wanted to lend helping hands and caring hearts was remarkable. Our family drew closer together, and we were able to recognize the Lord’s hand in our lives through love and care from others, as my health grew better. Through this experience, we learned how we could welcome the Savior in as we graciously welcomed service from others. Even more than that, the Christmas that could have been rough ended up being one of the best as we made the most of it.
The location and setting of the Savior’s birth was not what was planned, but it turned into a humbling, powerful experience. There are many unexpected challenges that happen to all of us. They may occur at Christmas time or during the year. Whether they tie to relationship complications, economic hardship, sickness, or any part of the spectrum of difficulties, we can learn from the Savior’s example during any hardship that we face. We can either stay disappointed or continue forward, relying on Christ, while seeing things with a new perspective. The Lord has His plan for each of us to grow in ways He knows will help the most. Although daunting news may be hard to accept at first, the unexpected changes and occurrences that come can help us realize how they strengthened us in ways we never would have imagined.