Making Your Christmas Merry

By Pastor John Crotts

            While Christmas is often called “the most wonderful time of the year,” for many this is not the case.  The facts are that more depression, attempted suicides, and even actual suicides take place between Thanksgiving and the New Year than any other time of the year.


            There are many explanations given for the unusual amounts of sadness during what is supposed to be such a joyful time.  Some are sad because of unfulfilled expectations (their holiday is not what they thought it should be), lost loved ones, bad memories of past holidays, or just loneliness.  


            While many of these and other potentially gloomy circumstances do exist in the midst of the Christmas season, they do NOT have to result in depression.  Our outside circumstances never force us to respond negatively on the inside.  God will never allow one of His children to encounter any outside trial that is more than we can handle inwardly.


            1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”  This is a profound promise, worthy of memorizing and thinking about deeply.


            No matter how potentially depressing your Christmas may be, you will always be able to obey God’s command to, “rejoice always,” (Philippians 3:1; 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  While it is not always a sin to become blue, unbelief in God is a sin.  For a true Christian, all of our sorrow is still mixed with faith in the Faithful One, which prevents us from sliding into utter despair.


            The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us great hope, but also great challenge.  Our hope is that our Faithful God knows us and loves us and will never put more on our plate than we can handle.  Our challenge is realizing that whenever we do sin, we have to accept full responsibility for our sin.  We can’t blame our parents, our circumstances, or the One behind it all —God!


            Accepting the blame for our sin is the first step in freedom from that sin.  As long as we try to shift the blame to other sources, we remain a hopeless prisoner to the sin.  All we are doing is dealing with the symptoms of guilt.  On the other hand, 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  In an honest heart examination, are you sinning against God in your holiday blues?  If so, confess your sin to the Lord.


            Most people who become downcast during the Christmas season have lost sight of the true joy of the season.  In fact even if you are NOT depressed now, but your holiday hope and joy is merely in family, friends, parties, lights, and presents, you are a prime candidate for future holiday blues.


            When the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, the angel of the Lord made a stunning announcement to some lowly shepherds.  “And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,’” (Luke 2:10,11).


            The key to enjoying this and every Christmas is the good news of the coming of Jesus.  The angel said this is the source of GREAT JOY, and it is for ALL THE PEOPLE.  That means YOU qualify as a recipient of this GREAT JOY!


            There is now hope for your mixed up world.  There is hope for turning your life around.  There is hope for a second chance (or even for a third or fourth chance)!  There is forgiveness in the Savior that was born that first Christmas.  The great joy found in Jesus is more powerful than any sorrow that circumstances can produce.  (If you don’t believe me just imagine your same set of circumstances if Jesus had never been born.)


            The key to maximizing your joy this holiday season is resetting your priorities.  Make sure the Lord Jesus Christ has first place in your heart.  All of the other good and difficult events of the season are seen in their proper light when His light shines brightest in your life!