THE CHRISTMAS BLUES
Psalm 119 (selected portions)
What are some of the Christmas phrases we hear every year?
“Tis the season to be jolly”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”
“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
“Dreaming of a White Christmas”
But! What about the famous saying from Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” “Bah Humbug”. Because many feel this way at this time of year! Is this how you feel this Christmas season? If your answer is “Yes!” you’re not alone. During all the joyful songs, smiling faces, cheerful parties, gifts, and good wishes, many lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. And sadly a majority of us don’t even see it; because they hide it so well.
Canada Psychology Today said “Yet for many, the Christmas period is a far cry from Norman Rockwell's post-war American ideal of family gatherings overflowing with gifts and laughter. Rather it's a period with at least some kind of disappointment, anxiety, or even sadness, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Christmas is often accompanied by a variety of stressors, including alcohol, changed sleep rhythms, increased financial burdens, and family conflicts. Losses during the year, be it death of a loved one or economic setbacks, are experienced more acutely during this time….”
Desiring God wrote a blog piece and said this on the issue of Christmas “Let’s be honest, not all is merry and bright. To some, the season may genuinely feel like the most wonderful time of the year, but all of us know deep down that not all is merry and bright in this world — or in us. Some Christmases we feel the burden and weight more than others……” He goes on to say “Normal life is hard enough. It’s even harder when all the world seems to be singing, ringing bells, and pretending everything’s suddenly merry. The pressure to feel the joy of Christmas can make joy all the more difficult.”
Many people dread Christmas season! One person wrote this “My family live too far away to visit, and my friends disappear to spend time with their own families. For me, Christmas and New Year are the loneliest times of the year…” The Paramedics & Central Communications Tweeted a post this week “You’re going to come in contact with an awful lot of people who are at their absolute breaking point this week. Friends, family, co-workers, teachers, strangers in the grocery store, retail workers. While it may be the merriest time of the year for some, it may be the saddest, most stressful, loneliest, and most heartbreaking for others.” For many people, struggling with loneliness this is the toughest part this time of year. The Christmas and New Year season is a time of year when loneliness, depression and sadness can take root in the lives of Christians as well.
Several factors can produce Christmas blues.
Finances…… not enough money or fear of not having enough to buy gifts which leads to sadness and guilt.
Stress…… The stress of shopping, and planning family dinners.
Loneliness…… 43% of Canadians are single and 28% of those live alone. This time of year can be very painful for them as they sit alone.
Grief….. Missing of loved ones who have passed into eternity, or the elderly in Care Homes who have no family coming to visit them.
Estrangement…. Family disputes or fighting makes it for an awkward time, especially if they are not on speaking terms.
Pleasing…… Who to visit, her parents or mine? What to do? That stresses the whole family with all the traveling.
Eeyore Days….. The weather plays a huge part in this, “The Winter Blahs” those “grey days” that turn into long nights as to the decrease of sunlight during the winter months.
Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress.
Overspending can produce financial pressure.
Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.
We know by the word of God that we shouldn’t feel this way… But we are human, redeemed, but sinful creators, and it can and will happen if we don’t take the necessary steps to guard our hearts and mind.
God never intended for us to feel
this way at this time of year
But unfortunately there are individuals that do feel this way.Real (everyday) feelings and it affected their Christian walk none the less. Here are some helpful ways to battle the Christmas Blues…..
1. FOCUS YOU ATTENTION TO THE SCRIPTURES TO NOURISH YOUR WEARY SOUL.
The Scriptures are written so that you may believe in His name.
The Scriptures will guard your mind from falling into depression.
The Scriptures help us to focus on what’s most important the joy of Christ, so that you will be able to enjoy the Season.
The Scriptures will strengthen you and give you hope as you grind through this tough time in your life..
Here is the warning! Be careful what comes into your mind. Guard your heart with all your heart through the Scriptures as your guide. The Psalmist wrote “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11. The "word" is absolutely necessary; God's Word is our fuel, our source, our bread, our honey, our milk and our meat. God's Word is the very thing that revives us, produces faith to sustain us in everything.
John Flavel said “The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying.”
We must focus our attention on the Scriptures and the God of the Scriptures. Psalm 119:24 we read “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” There is no greater place, person or book to turn to, then the Holy Scriptures. This is important because we can become very discouraged quickly and easily. Because! Psalm 119:28 we read “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” This season and the news that reaches our ears have a way of tearing us down and heaping heavy loads of sorrow upon our hearts. And the only way to get refueled is to rest in His Word and the promises that are there for the child of God. Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Fill your heart up on God’s Word. Get God’s Word into your heart.
2. FOCUS BY POURING OUT YOUR HEART TO A HOLY GOD WHO IS WHERE WE FIND REST FOR A WEARY SOUL.
In Psalm 119:145-149 reminds of this truth. “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes. I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.”
In the little bit of strength that you have pray about your situation and leave the rest to the Lord. The Lord who is steadfast in this passage is taking about a kindness that is especially extended to the lowly, the needy, and the miserable. He will work everything out, no matter how difficult the case may be, for your own good. Your complete devotion of heart is led by divine promises and is directed to an increase of gracious affections, arising from a meditation of revealed truth. Remember who you are praying too! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28. Phil 4:6-7 reminds us of this truth! “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt 11:28-30
3. FOCUS ON WHERE YOUR HOPE IS, EVEN IF YOU FEEL DRAWN TO THE BLUES OF THE SEASON.
We read in Psalm 119:50 “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promises give me life.”
The word here rendered “comfort” occurs only here and in Job 6:10
Job said “This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” Job 6:10
What the Psalmist; and what Job is saying is this! What the Word has already done is the promise and the pledge of what it shall yet do continually. The supernatural peace that we rest in fills our hearts with Heavens hope, even in the midst of our circumstances or situation.
Where does that comfort come from?
In Genesis we read that God originally created a perfect world. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Gen 1:31. But it was soon marred by Adam and Eve’s sin and the consequence for sin was death.
“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen 2:17
Not just separation, but God has the rights to kill you on the spot. This is serious business! Because Paul said “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:23
Here is where the comfort comes in!
Even during the darkest day in history,
God offered a message of hope in the very first gospel message.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” Genesis 3:15
God promised that He would send a Savior who would conquer Satan and deal with the problem of death and suffering. Even though some of us may feel lonely or isolated during the Christmas holidays, it’s important for us to remember the hope that Jesus brings. The Incarnation, God becoming a man, is the very reason why we have hope. Without Jesus, we have no hope, and only death/judgement to look forward to. So remind the hurting and those with the Christmas blues what Paul wrote “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess 4:13-18
The point Paul is trying to make is not an eschatological argument for the Rapture, but for the hope of an eternal promise that we will live with Him for all eternity.
Everything points to the glorious Christ who the radiance and glory of God.
We who were once lacking the perfect and right sacrifice for our sins, has been made possible through the perfect, sinless, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How can we get through the Christmas blues?
Remind yourself of this truth written in Psalm 119. The psalmist wrote “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the Heavens.” Psalm 119:89. This is our foundation that keeps our hearts from shattering into a millions pieces.
So! Here is my Christmas recommendation to you to overcome the Christmas blues!
Rest in Him
Find peace in Him
Read His Word
Meditate on His Word
Sing His Word
Pray His Word
Live out His Word in your life
Forget all the window dressing and the commercialism, all the planning and the frustrations of what to buy or cook. Start here! Resting in Him who holds your life in the palm of His sovereign hand. This is a season or a time to reflect the wonderful blessing that flow from Heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ. Who came to this earth to die a death we deserve; and he did this through the Cross of Calvary. But death could not hold Him! For He rose again on the third day and we too can be raised with Him in the end through repentance and faith in Christ alone.
There is no Biblical reason to have or go through the Christmas blues as a child of the Living God. And I know that might sound “brass or a blunt thing” to say. Because in turn you might say… “Mike you don’t know what I’ve gone through this year?” And you are right! I don’t
But God does, and that is where I find comfort and rest. If you apply these simple truths to your life I guarantee you will be able to say “Tis the season to be jolly.” Because you not alone! We have a holy God who loves you and gave Himself for you. And all He asks of us is to repent and believe the gospel truth. Surely that is the best reason to smile and have a merry Christmas filled with hope this year, isn’t it? Christmas is to be a reflecting time, a joyful time, and a comforting time, filled with His mercy and grace, which flows through Jesus’ veins.
Incarnate Deity “God with us”
We celebrate that God has provided for us reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry said “When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better—His PEACE”
That’s a picture of Christmas!
Look past the bad news and the hurts this season, and keep your eyes focused on the peace that the Gospel brings. The peace of God that keeps and delivers us into eternity. Look past the gifts, the shiny bows and festive foods and focus on His redeeming grace to save sinners like you and me. Look to radiant glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, who dwelt amoung us. Look past all the hurts this Christmas season and remind yourself of this Biblical truth “Jesus came to die for my sins”. Matt 1:21
Preach the gospel into your heart daily.
Why? So that you have a biblical genuine answer; when someone asks you how is your Christmas going.
What do I mean by that?
Well! David Murray said it best; when he said “The unbelievers in your family will be looking to see how you react to your recent losses and how you are responding to your depression. They will see you are sad and they will ask how you are doing. How about this for an answer: ‘Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ 2 Cor 6:10.” Rejoicing in my Redeemer, who is the greatest Christmas gift ever to be given and He is enough to cast my blues away!