You are currently viewing Confronting Uncomfortable—Christmas Encounters of the Close Kind

Confronting Uncomfortable—Christmas Encounters of the Close Kind

As they packed for their long journey, both disbelief and excited anticipation set in. After sighting a spectacular star in the east, they spent months of study, scouring ancient writings. Then there were careful calculations, planning and preparation.

Finally, they were ready to embark on a once-in-a-millennium journey in search of a new King. With a longing in their breasts they could not yet fully understand, the Magi set out on what was probably the most far-reaching and significant quest of their lives.

What would lead “a priestly class of men from Persia, well-educated, specializing in medicine, religion, astronomy and astrology, divination and magic” to leave everything familiar and comfortable? (faith and facts)

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, by day or by night—to follow the star. 

Even if they took adequate supplies, animals, servants, and protective measures, they were uncomfortable at best, miserable at worst.

Upon arrival in Jerusalem, greeted with speculation and pretense by a crazed king and his fearful yes-men, they began to sense a malignance they could not place…yet.

Securing the required information regarding the whereabouts of this new King’s birth, they hastened in departure with a heightened awareness of this dis-ease growing in their spirits. With growing anticipation, they headed south toward Bethlehem.

Not even a jealous, deranged king could deter them from finding the King they sought.

When they entered the meager dwelling where Mary was preparing the evening meal while the Baby quietly at her feet, they were immediately overwhelmed with what could only be identified as worship:


What did that look like for these men? 

Did they fall to the ground, overcome in the presence of this 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?

  • Wonder
  • Awe
  • Disbelief
  • Joy
  • Ecstasy
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Comfort

We’re told of the physical treasures they brought, but what about the hidden, unspoken offerings of their souls?

  • weariness
  • sin
  • suffering
  • loss

After all, despite being wise men, they were just men. Their journey surely left them depleted in three dimensions—physically, mentally and spiritually.

What was this invisible force compelling them onward despite numerous obstacles and unknowns?

Faith propelled them towards their destiny; worship grounded them in that faith.

Another set of travelers set out on an exhausting journey. 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, the latter incomparable to the former. 

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.

What is making you uncomfortable, wearing you down this Christmas season? 

  • An uncertain future?
  • Constant change, stretching you beyond comfortable?
  • The tension between what Christmas used to feel like and the complex reality of what it’s become?
  • A heartbreaking loss or hopeless circumstance?

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.


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—

  • treasure
  • troubles
  • temptations
  • turmoil
  • trials

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!

Leave a Reply