Hopefully you have enjoyed your Advent reading so far. Today we have another devotional from Taryn Flake. I can't help but smile after reading her first paragraph. Only because I borrowed heavily from her verses for yesterdays devotional. God Bless!
Daily Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:16-18
Well, I didn’t really want to write a devotion about this passage of Scripture. It is an odd account within the Advent story and frankly, quite depressing. What can be gleaned from Herod killing off a bunch of innocent babies and toddlers?
The first lesson is one about overreacting in our anger. It seems a little extreme to realize that you’ve been tricked and then go out on a killing spree. However, how many of us can relate to an experience where some small act set us off, flying off the handle? We anger easily depending on how our children or spouse are acting, depending on what political posts we see on social media, and depending on how the people around us drive down the road. Let us take this extreme example of a severe overreaction and try to take a minute and breathe through our anger. Let us give our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances the benefit of the doubt.
The second lesson is one about innocence. This passage, according to Wikipedia, is called “The Massacre of the Innocents.” A traditional source claims that as many as 14,000 boys were killed, however the population of Bethlehem at that time was around 1,000, so other sources cite that between 6-20 children were likely killed due to this decree. No matter the number, our heart breaks at the premature death of those most innocent in the population. The loss of innocence is so great because of the severity of Herod’s action. Most of us would claim that we do not deliberately lead to a child’s loss of innocence. However, there are times that we overshare information to children, leading to a loss of innocence. Or perhaps we think that we are better than one group of people in our world, leading to a “massacre of innocents” by us acting in our own best interests, rather than in the best interest of the common good. God is in each person around us. We need to treat other people with the dignity they should receive by being a human being on earth.
The third lesson is one about the reality of pain in our life. Immanuel, translated as “God with us,” means that God came to earth to experience life as we humans do. God didn’t ever promise us a life free of pain. The families of those innocent children know that their lives were full of pain. However, we can go through this life with God’s peace, even if we are suffering from trials and tribulations. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Through this odd passage read during Advent, let us give others the benefit of the doubt and be slow to anger (James 1:19), treat others with dignity, and live our troubled life with the peace that only comes from God.
Dear Lord, please show us where we have not been compassionate to other human beings in this life and treated them a bit like Herod treated those innocent children. We know that life will be hard, but we trust that through the peace that only You can give, that we can make it through our trials. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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