Have you ever traveled cross-continent? Sleep deprivation, jet lag, and general feelings of disorientation leave even the most seasoned traveler weary and a bit anxious.
Not only was this my experience, but the anticipation of it gripped me so that I regretted our plans, despite the dream destination!
But after a good meal and night’s sleep, all angst dissipated, and we experienced each city with anticipation and joy.
Today’s modern travel conveniences make even the most difficult journey tolerable, but there were travelers 2000 years ago who trekked for miles on end to an uncertain destination in quest of a yet unknown King.
About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews” We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” Matt.2:1b-2
Based on contemporary theories, the wise men traveled as far as 400-700 miles of arduous terrain, taking anywhere from 3-8 weeks depending on whether they traveled by foot or camel.
Even if they took adequate supplies, animals, servants, and protective measures, they were uncomfortable at best, miserable at worst.
After their arrival in Jerusalem, greeted with speculation and pretense, they departed in haste for Bethlehem with heightened awareness of a dis-ease growing in their spirits.
But not even a jealous, deranged king could deter them from finding the King they sought to worship…
What did that look like for these men?
Did they fall to the ground, overcome in the presence of the King of Kings?
Were they quietly reverent for what seemed like hours upon seeing His tiny face?
I wonder at their physical posture, but even more, I crave clarity regarding the posture of their hearts. What filled their hearts the moment they encountered the infant King?
We’re told of the physical treasures they brought, but what about the hidden, unspoken offerings of their souls?
After all, despite being wise men, they were just men.
Their journey surely left them depleted in three dimensions—physically, mentally and spiritually—did it diminish hope as well?
God coming down to our gritty, dusty land of the dying makes every difference in our hope for living. Emily Freeman
Joseph trekked over 100 miles of treacherous roads on foot to Bethlehem.
Mary—9 months pregnant—rode alongside on donkeyback, jostled every step of the way, only to give birth in a lonely, smelly stable amidst unwelcoming strangers.
Creature comforts were in scarce supply, yet because a young couple and some wise men embraced discomfort, we can experience the riches of true comfort and joy.
So what did the wise men do once they found Jesus?
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Their arduous journey was bookended by treasure, but the latter was incomparable.
They left everything they treasured: comfortable lifestyles of familiar food and drink, warm beds and willing servants, only to bow before the greatest treasure the world was ever given.
As they worshiped, a newfound truth surely overtook their travel-worn but rejoicing souls:
While there was nothing comfortable about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, there is everything comforting about Emmanuel: God with us.
So what is making you uncomfortable, wearing you down this Christmas season?
- The uncertainty of these past 2 years?
- The constant change, stretching you beyond comfortable?
- A heartbreaking loss or circumstance seemingly beyond hope?
While discomfort is, well—uncomfortable—it is peppered with purpose, just as it was for the wise men.
The challenges of the journey only magnified the magnificence of the holy encounter.
Like the wise men, we can worship, embracing both discomfort and wonder simultaneously.
Sometimes the higher the obstacle, the wider the worship as we land in the lap of the King.
So when life gets uncomfortable, unbearable even, draw near to the Savior who comforts, consoles and cares for all who come and offer whatever they have to give—
He accepts it all, exchanging it for the greatest gift of all—Himself. Whatever is wearing you down this season, do whatever you must to get to Jesus.
Trek, trudge, crawl, crumble, cry out. He will do the rest, provide the rest, be the rest. (Matthew 11:28)
O, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy! O, tidings of comfort and joy!
Merry Christmas dear friends! I pray the New Year brings new wonder, joy and peace wrapped in His comforting, beautiful presence.