Friday, December 25, 2020

Flashback Friday - When Christmas Mixes with Sorrow - Martin Wiles

“Can you think of anything we can sell?” I asked my wife. 

Christmas 2013 shaped up to be the leanest Christmas season my wife and I had ever experienced. Gifts were purchased from places we normally didn’t buy them from. Buying for each other was out of the question; we merely attempted to give small tokens of love to family members.

Financial struggles had led providers to disconnect one service we enjoyed, which led to an early termination charge of $400. They, in turn, promptly exercised their contract right to draft what we owed from our bank account.

My wife had just completed four small transactions at local retailers, and, except for a small book royalty she planned to use on our Christmas presents, our account was depleted—and now, overdrawn. Not only did the provider take the book royalty, but they also drafted the amount of my wife’s transactions that hadn’t cleared the bank. Now, in addition to everything else, we had returned check fees. When my wife called the service provider to ask for grace, they rudely reminded her of the early termination fee and told her any money we deposited in the bank would be absconded until the balance was paid in full.

Mom was kind enough to deposit enough cash to cover the few transactions we had made, but we soon discovered the service provider had pocketed that, too. After eight days, our bank would begin charging overdrawn fees. As the final day approached, my wife and I let our eyes roam over any items in the house we might sell to cover our debt.

Other than family mementos we had no intentions of selling, the only thing we could uncover was my wife’s carnival glass collection. “Let’s sell it,” she said. After making sure she wanted to part with what she loved so much, I agreed. What other choice did we have?

As I carefully tucked each piece away in newspaper to deliver to an auctioneer friend, I couldn’t help but think of the memories associated with every piece. Trips to the mountains, hours spent at auctions, miles traveled to visit antique shops, yard sales. We had invested many years in the collection. For eight days, we had prayed for God to provide. The way He did brought sorrow but at the same time thankfulness that we had assets to sell.

God’s Christmas gift to humanity also brought a mixture of joy and sorrow. Jesus’ cry from the cross—along with His Father temporarily turning away from Him—evidenced God’s pain. His Son was paying for the sins of the world. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me” (Matthew 27:46)?

But God’s joy is expressed through another verse and in another time before the cross: For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

As I packed my wife’s treasures in a box to deliver for sale and thought about God’s gift to me, I was reminded that Christmas often brings with it a mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy over what God has done in my behalf, but sorrow that my sin required such an awful sacrifice.

Whatever the reason for the sorrow you may be facing this Christmas season, rejoice that Christ has overcome—and, in Him, you can, too. Christmas joy can trounce all pain and grief.

Tweetable: Is sorrow mixing with your Christmas? 

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