“The store will be closing in 18 minutes. Please make your final selections and make your way to the check-out area.” I really had no business being at Walmart on Christmas Eve. But let me be honest. I love going to the store at the last minute to pick out stocking stuffers. I love being part of the masses who busily dart down aisles, avoiding eye contact with Walmart employees. I love getting a good deal. “The store will be closing in 17 minutes.”
It’s crazy how the actual experience of Christmas attempts to give us the things that only Christ can give. Isaac Watts wrote this Christmas prayer back in 1719: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”
We often use gift-giving as a way to buy favor from our friends and family, but Christ atoned for our sins apart from our good deeds. We try to cope with our sorrows by going shopping, but Christ takes away our sorrows through his resurrection. When we unwrap new things, we can temporarily forget how everything is broken. But Jesus helps us deal with living in a thorn-infested world by willingly wearing a crown of thorns.
“God with us” has entered into our suffering. As you gather up the crumpled wrapping paper and return the “wrong” gifts to the store, let it remind you that “surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:4).