Christmas Article: Those Holiday Blues

The holiday season can be a time of great joy and excitement. A time for celebrating our Saviour's birth. A time for seeing old friends and relatives. A time for sharing gifts and good food. But this time of year also brings stress for some and a heightened awareness of loneliness and depression for others.

People who think they have few friends feel even worse during the holidays because they see others getting together and having a good time. They feel left out. And even people with family and many friends can feel isolated. They may be separated from loved ones. Or they may have spent too much time and energy orchestrating the grand festivities. They are too stressed out to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, the love, and the closeness.

People expect something from Christmas. They have certain hopes for the holidays. I guess that is what depresses some people: they feel they have no hope. But some people look at things backwards. They think that because they have nothing to live for today, they have no hope for tomorrow. But hope is not dependent upon what you have or what you lack today. Hope is dependent upon what promises tomorrow holds for you.

If you are depressed or disappointed during the holidays (or any time of the year), does it mean that you have no hope? No. You may feel lonely. But you are not alone. Many people will think, "Oh, if only I could experience just a moment of closeness or happiness, that would hold me over. That would be enough."

My prayers are with those who may be lonely or depressed this holiday season. I pray that you can believe the promises of hope found in the Bible. I pray that you can believe, even if for just one moment, that Jesus wants to be your friend. Hold on to that thought, and you will find hope.

If you could get what you want right now, and someone did reach out to you for "just a moment", you would still not be satisfied. Instead of being happy that you have received a moment of companionship, you would be unhappy that it didn't last longer. The more we get, the more we want. We seem to have an unquenchable thirst for many things. Love is one of those things.

Am I saying that we are caught in a dilemma? Will we be miserable if we are lonely? Will we still be miserable even if we do find friends? The answer to that question depends upon whom you consider to be your best friend: another person or Jesus.

If you seek Jesus as your best friend, you will find hope for tomorrow. And you will find peace for today. If you seek another person as your best friend, you may find some happiness today. And that momentary happiness may make it easier for you to believe that a happy tomorrow is possible.

But does that momentary happiness hold the same promise of hope and joy that a permanent relationship with Christ can bring? Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)

In saying this, am I creating another dilemma? I said that Jesus should be our best friend. Then is there any reason for someone to reach out to a hurting person? And is there any reason for that hurting person to accept the friendship? Why should people even bother trying, if people-to-people relationships are second rate in comparison with people-to-Jesus relationships?

God made us to worship Him and to love Him. Our first love (and priority) should be God. But He also made us to love each other. God made the second person, Eve, to be a companion to the first person, Adam.

God's love is shown through our words and our deeds. When we show that we care about another person, we are saying more than just, "I love you," to that person. We are also saying, "God loves you, too."

Although we have a great desire for friendship, it seems we are not very adept at identifying potential friends. I have often been surprised at the "friends" that have materialized when I was moving, leaving a job, or graduating from a school.

Did these people suddenly decide to make a last-ditch attempt at friendship? No. I was leaving. They might never see me again. There was no risk involved in their admitting their true feelings. It was easy for them to take what might seem to be a foolish chance. I wouldn't be around to remind them if their attempts at closeness failed. But, sadly enough, I wouldn't be around to remind them if they succeeded, either.

I have noticed myself doing similar things. When I attend functions at other churches, I am a little friendlier, a little more outgoing. I take more chances. Why? Because there is less risk with strangers. If I make a fool of myself, I don't have to see them again. I take less chances with the people I care about; I don't want to hurt them. So some things may be left unsaid or undone.

When you think that no one cares about you, try to give people the benefit of the doubt. It's quite ironic. Maybe they would like to help you. But maybe they take no action because they, too, feel inadequate. Maybe they are afraid they will make matters worse for you, instead of helping you.

Jesus is sometimes referred to as the great physician. Some people may look at human relationships as a temporary band-aid on the troubles of life. When you get a boo-boo, someone may try to help you by applying a band-aid to your boo-boo until you get to the doctor. That band-aid applied by a human does not actually save your life or save your soul. But that band-aid may keep your hopes and dreams alive long enough for you to allow Jesus to heal you -- for Jesus to save your life and your soul.

Maybe we should place a box of band-aids on some of the tables at our church, in case someone has a boo-boo on his heart. I don't know if we could get in trouble for practicing medicine without a license. But don't you think it's time we took more chances? God wants to work miracles through us. And there may be some risks involved. But we cannot discover those miracles until we are willing to take some chances.

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