For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
A few weeks ago I was shopping at Walmart for a family my friends and I had “adopted” for Christmas. My cart was full and the cashier was about half-way through check-out when I told him that I would need a gift receipt. He looked up and said that I should have told him that before he started. Now he would have to void everything and start again. I looked behind me at the line that had formed. Oh no, I was that person! Several left the line, clearly annoyed. One woman remained behind me. I told the cashier, never mind. I would just give the receipt with the gifts. Rush hour was approaching, and I could not bear to hold up anyone any longer. The woman who stayed in line insisted that it was ok. She was in no hurry.
“Are you sure?” I asked. She was.
The cashier then began the process of voiding everything he had already bagged. As I stood waiting, the woman behind me said, “But you could do me a favor.”
I couldn’t imagine what I could do for her, but I replied, “I’ll try.” With that she began to cry. I gave her a few moments to gather herself, and asked what was wrong. She explained that her daughter and son-in-law had just bought their first home in California and they had just been evacuated because of the fires. She was concerned for their safety as well as their home. Her mother’s heart was broken with anxiety and fear. But what favor did she want from me, I thought? She never articulated what she had in mind. Clearly there was nothing I could do to help her family. I was confused, but then I realized there was something I could do for her.
“Would you like me to pray for them? I would love to do that for you.” I could tell that she was surprised by my response, but she sheepishly thanked me. By then the cashier was done—I paid, then assured the woman I would continue to pray.
What inspired a woman to break down to a total stranger in Walmart? The whole exchange made little sense. But I believe she was looking for something we all seek during difficult times. Peace. Perhaps she thought that by sharing her burden she might relieve some of the pain. But while I could provide a sympathetic ear, I could not cure her troubled heart. I could, however, introduce her to the only true source of comfort—the Prince of Peace.
Jesus once said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
For this reason, Jesus was “given” to us on Christmas morning. The world cannot offer peace like Jesus can. He alone provides the means to be reconciled with God. We experience peace with God as we are forgiven of our sins, and our guilt and shame are removed. And as we trust in Him, we can rest in the assurance that He has a plan and is working out His sovereign purposes even in the midst of difficult times.
This Christmas I am praying for all those, who like the lady at Walmart, desire to experience the peace heralded in by the Prince of Peace. I pray that the lost, suffering, fearful, and lonely will see the baby in the manger as a gift to them and receive Him as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the only source of true peace.
Have a blessed Christmas!