by Christopher Harbin

Blessed in Sorrow
Christopher B. Harbin
Psalm 148; Isaiah 63:7-9; Matt. 2:13-23; Hebrews 2:10-18

Life is fraught with problems. We deal with anxiety over the unknown. We rehearse the stress and toil of the past and project our unresolved fears into the unknown future. Experience tells us that our health, wealth, and welfare are always tenuous. Amid the sorrow and uncertainties, can we rest assured of the blessing of God's care and presence?
"Out of Egypt have I called my son." The phrase would ring with clear understanding for any Jew of the First Century. "Out of the land of Mitzraim" is the way they would have proclaimed it in the annual Passover celebrations. Egypt, Mitzraim, place of bondage, sorrow, suffering, and meaningless toil. It was a concept rekindled in the face of Roman occupation. Life would never seem more rank than living in their own land, yet forced to pay a heavy tax penalty to foreign oppression.
Foreign oppression had forcibly uprooted them from their home. They had made the arduous trek to Bethlehem, forced to find whatever lodging could be had on a day-laborer's wages. When the time came for Mary to give birth, there was no appropriate place at the inn. They took refuge in the shelter of a stable, so as not to defile the guests with the ritual impurity associated with birthing. Life for this family was hard. It was made harder by the stresses of foreign oppression. News of a plot to kill the child sent them on another trek, this time to Egypt and away from Herod's grasp.
As though moving to Bethlehem to pay taxes were not enough, now the family was forced to travel once again. This time the path takes them to Egypt, itself a figure of bondage, oppression, and sorrow, as well as a reminder of the epic exodus of Moses' day. We are reminded of the wilderness wanderings of a people under Moses. We are reminded of Moses' own flight from Egypt under threat of Pharaoh's vengeance. We are reminded of a nation's founding as ...

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