My cry echoed the cries of many throughout the centuries, culminating in the haunting strains of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
In 2006, my treadmill of holiday festivities sputtered to a halt. Instead of my Christmas letter brimming with the clever antics of beloved children and pets, I announced,
“I have ovarian cancer.”
Chemotherapy had sapped my stamina, my strength, and my joy. I didn’t have the energy to drag out the boxes of Christmas baubles and decorate. I wanted to do more, but I settled on a simple hand-painted nativity set gracing my fireplace mantel. Multi-colored lights surrounded the figurines in a valiant attempt to cheer me. I watched the shadows play across the wall as I faced another round of chemotherapy.
Where ARE you, God?
As I sought God in the unfamiliarity of a Christmas on chemotherapy, he reminded me of the Magi. They left their familiar homeland filled with joy and embarked on a journey seeking to worship the newborn king bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
As I reflected on the Magi, I wondered what gifts could I offer this Christmas fit for a king?
2. Gold—I offer that which is more precious than gold, my faith. A faith that continues to believe in the goodness of God. A faith that acknowledges Jesus as the King of Kings who reigns over the whole world, including my circumstances. Even cancer. This season, I honor the King by walking in faith and trusting him with my future, relying on Jesus to bring me through the cancer and chemotherapy. God is faithful.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold (1 Peter 1:7a NLT).
2. Frankincense—Frankincense, an expensive and fragrant incense offered in the worship of a deity. My fragrant offering pleasing to God is praise and worship. Even in the midst of pain, confusion, and chemotherapy, he is worthy.
You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11 NKJV).
3. Myrrh—The bitter perfume of suffering foreshadowed the death of Jesus on the cross. By his death and resurrection, he rescued us from our sinful way of life and gave us access to the living God. For me, myrrh represents my altar of surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. I surrender my circumstances, hopes, and dreams to the one who loves me, created me, and died for me.
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of Go (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).
This Christmas, I will follow in the footsteps of the Magi and offer my gifts of faith, worship, and surrender to Jesus. I, too, will look past my sufferings and focus on the majesty of my savior. He is the source of my joy. A joy not dependent upon my circumstances, but a joy that comes from his presence. And like the Magi, I, too, will rejoice with great joy. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy… they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV).
God heard my cry. Through the gifts of the Magi, he revealed himself as Emmanuel, God with us. And he is still with me.
Is Jesus your Emmanuel? What gifts will you offer Jesus this Christmas?