When I think of the Christmas story, Ramah comes to mind.
Ramah, a place long prophesied to experience tragedy (Jeremiah 31:15), was defiled when King Herod ordered the murder of all boys two years old or younger (Matthew 2:16-18). In fact, he ordered the death of boys this age in Bethlehem and all its districts. He hoped to get rid of Jesus, to clear away what he viewed as competition for the throne. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus managed to escape and hide in Egypt until the danger had passed (Matthew 2:13-15) — but for other families, things turned horrific. At one point in my life I considered this slaughter to be a separate event after the fact of Christmas. Now I’m looking at it differently.
We cannot blame the evil actions of men on a God who gave us a choice. At least, this is what I am learning. Many reflect on peace, joy, generosity, and family as part of Christmas. To accept those things as a reflection of Advent season, we must also recognize war, sorrow, oppression, and loss as further reflections of the same holy time.
Can you imagine it? Living there, in Ramah, at that time in history? Imagine sitting in your house, having heard rumors of shepherds seeing angels and hearing good tidings meant for all people.
“It can’t be true. It sounds insane.” a friend says.
You look at your infant son, sleeping nearby. The world you’ll raise him in is a world that will change from what you know. “What if it is?” you reply. “Maybe this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
Then later, in the middle of the night, you and your family wake up to screams from homes nearby. Someone forces their way into your own house, grabs your son, and takes him from this world, forever. Could you ever consider this idea of a true and just king, a Savior, without pain? Would you hate the hand of God?
Maybe these thoughts seem a little negative compared to the usual Christmastime cheer, but that’s just my point. I wonder if Ramah is in fact a significant part, not just a sad aside, of the Christmas story as a whole. Jesus came to earth to bind up the brokenhearted in Ramah, and everywhere evil tries to reign. Give glory to God because He made a way to overcome the injustice that humanity creates so well. Ramah is not forgotten. Even now, after Christmas Day, it is a part of our Christmas story because we live in a world full of Ramahs. Our earth plays host to slaves, slavers, and buyers alike…not in theory, but in reality. I’ve met people who have experienced that Ramah and are now learning the fullness of Christmas.
Ramah doesn’t negate the goodwill offered to us by our Creator. It reminds us why we need it. And even from Heaven, He sees it too.
These are the things that motivate me to focus on returning to ministry in Australia & New Zealand. My two-month deputation has turned into an eleven-month and counting, but I am…well, if I’m honest, I’m alternating between trusting God completely and trusting Him with some work. Ramah is a part of the Christmas story, and human trafficking is a part of our story. Now let’s do something about it.