“And she 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…”- Luke 2:7
She was bloody, exhausted, and afraid; he was confused, burdened, and afraid. But they traveled. They knew that there was no way this could be avoided. HE was on His way, and they had nowhere to go to welcome him. Things hadn’t really been going as planned for these two. They had just gotten engaged, and already they faced more than most marriages could endure. They dealt with a long distance relationship, questions of infidelity, relocation, and now the birth of a child that they have nowhere to birth. They had the greatest gift ever known to man and yet nowhere to put it.
Ever been in a situation where you felt your gift, promise, or potential was displaced? Ever felt like you had been so rejected, so lost in a season of life, that there was “no room in the end” for you? Family couldn’t help. Friends didn’t seem to make it better. And yet, you knew that you were pregnant with purpose. What do you do in times where the position you have been given does not match the condition that you are in? There is always a manger for you…
When the child Jesus was born, his mother Mary laid him in a manger (Luke 2:7). The word “manger” comes from the Latin word munducare which means “to eat.” A manger or crib is a wooden or stone feeding trough or food box that holds hay for larger farm animals like cattle, horses, and donkeys. Mangers were located wherever livestock were kept, and farmers were careful to keep their mangers well-supplied at all times so the animals would never go hungry.
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, they were forced to find lodging elsewhere, more than likely, a cave where animals were staying. Mary did not want to lay her infant on the hard, cold, stone floor. Instead, she had to make do with what was available, and the manger proved to be a convenient alternative. Jesus was not laid in a manger by accident. It is a major spiritual symbol. Animals go to mangers for physical food, but with Jesus lying on the hay, we can go to the manger for spiritual food. Jesus has an infinite storehouse of nourishment available, and we can approach Him anytime and never go hungry.
The holidays are not always bright for everyone. While some will relic in the fanfare and celebrate, others may grieve; find themselves burdened with sorrow or even despair. There is a reason why the manger is available. Go to it. In the same way that animals went to be nourished there, chew on the Word of God, ruminate on its meaning, digest it, and allow it to strengthen you. The true bread came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever (John 6:51).