Every year, from the start of Halloween, to the beginning of the New Year, America enters a hibernation period known as the Holiday season. When you are a kid growing up, especially in the 90s or 80s, this was a magical time of year. Gone were the dog days of fall where you are trapped by the prison-like school system, and in comes a break from the usual inertia of government brainwashing by teachers. What we got as a kid living in modern western society was winter wonderlands, candy, feasts, Christmas lights, football, and best of all, presents.
I guess everyone feels like this at one point of their life when it comes to this time of year. But as I grow older and wiser in my years, I dread the coming Holidays and it is often the most depressing time of year. It sounds cliche at times to be down during the holidays. After all, there are countless articles about the subject and how dire Thanksgiving and Christmas are. For some, people eye roll at the utterance, but for others, it is a reminder of harsh reality.
It is very ture, the holidays are often a stark reminder of how mortal we all are and how harsh and cruel reality is. Nearly all of us will at one time in our lives, celebrate these special days without a loved one by our side. For some, we have lost a parent or grandparent. For others, a son or daughter. Some will have lost a brother or sister or a confidant, or close friend. Some will have lost a spouse and the hurt will be very real. Some will have broken up in a relationship. Some will suffer the holidays with broken friendships. Some will have lost careers or jobs, and others are celebrating their first Christmas with an illness or disability. Everyone has a tragedy in their life and everyone has their own unique story in this grand novel God has constructed.
The Holidays are also a sobering reminder of how alone some people really are. We are currently going through a generational crisis where there is an epidemic of singleness and divorce in the western world and the Holidays aggravates the depression and anger one goes through while suffering one of these life seasons. And to some, we will not have a Holiday at all. With debt and rising prices, many of us will be forced to be slaves to a 2nd job or overtime just to keep the lights on. Right now in the west, it is a war. Sure, we are not starving and most have a roof over their head, but the war we are fighting is just as real as our ancestors fought for. We are fighting for our very souls. It is a spiritual battle the majority are fighting. We are fighting for the last scrap of hope in a world full of darkness and sin. Unfortunately, instead of being aggressive and attacking, many are just trying to survive. Survive, survive, survive. Survival is the spirit of the age and the love of many has waxed ice cold. The world is going through a storm in a sea of darkness, blinded, drowning in our iniquities. And all people can do is turn to the usual copes that have hurt the 21st century man.
When meditating on the dread of the upcoming festivals of the western world, I keep thinking of Jesus in the middle of the storm, resting on a couch, unfazed by the windstorm. His disciples were afraid and woke Him up, complaining at his perceived lack of empathy at their predicament. Jesus Christ simply got up, and with His word, rebuked the wind. The storm subsided, and Christ rebukes his disciples for their lack of faith. Everyone will have storms in their life, and there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. We will have good seasons of warmth and sunshine when everything is ok, and there will be seasons of cold and darkness when everything around us feels dreadful and life is depressing. No human created in the image of God will escape life’s trials and turbulences. This included the Messiah Himself. The thing is, how will we face these seasons of darkness when we know they will come and see the clouds gather by the horizon? Will we cower and panic, pointing the finger at God for his lack of empathy? Or will we realize, as followers of Jesus Christ, that we have God on our side and have saving faith enough to realize that as long as we trust God and follow His commands, as long as we look upon His Son, the Lord Jesus, everything will turn out for good? The true test of a human being and a follower of Jesus Christ is not what happens in the good times, but how will he respond when he walks through the darkest valley when hope is dim and the great unknown is before him? How does the man respond when he does not get what he wants, or the devil and his schemes torment him for a season? How does the man respond when the world rejects him and all he has is God almighty? This is a serious question that everyone must ask themselves. Jesus Christ went through these storms and seasons in His own life while on Earth. Yet Christ overcame the world and its trials, and never once doubted the Father, even unto death on a cross.
This does not mean that the pain is not real or is trite. Because the fact is, that it is very real to a lot of people. But I do think as followers of Christ, that we have been looking at the Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas in the wrong way. There is a lot of danger in making this specific type of holiday season an idol. Sure, people will always play the “X-Mas-is-about-Jesus” card. But can you honestly say that Christmas is about Jesus in secular America when it has been over-saturated by capitalistic, pegan schemes and gimmicks? The mainstream media like to portray and market these days as a magical time of year when it can be further from the truth for a majority of people. Movies are fantasy, and the Christmas Story type of childhood only lasts a season, and then you grow up and your heart becomes stone.
The first step as followers of Christ who have it rough during the Holidays, is to repent and change our minds in the way we view this time of year. We must be constantly renewing our minds, reading scripture and praying. We must come to a realization that the marketing regarding Thanksgiving and Christmas is just that; marketing. We need to stop being like the world and making idols out of Holidays. If we are following social media and it is starting to make us sin, we should cut it off. We should do everything in our power to not lose focus of Jesus Christ, especially knowing we are going right in a storm, and doubly sure not to lose focus when we are attempting to walk on water. We should always make sure our foundations are on the rock and not on sand. It is ok to hurt, but it is vital to talk to God about it via prayer. Just as in every season, we need to continue to pick up our cross and follow after Jesus Christ. We need to repent and believe. We need to take moments to fast, and never cease praying to the Father in the name of the Son.
My grandmother passed away a couple of years ago. I came from a big family and she was the undisputed matriarch and spiritual leader of my family. When talking to my mother about her, the one thing she wanted before she passed away was to have a big family Christmas gathering. Almost like the type you see in a hallmark movie. I know I should eye roll at this notion of a family reunion. But I refuse to eye roll, or scoff at the dream. I refuse to speak evil over this dream she had, even if this was impossible due to the great tradies that have fallen on my family and the strife many of us are going through. The fact is, many of us want this. Many of us want reconciliation, we want to mend broken families and friendships. We want peace and we want the dream. Even if this article sounds pessimistic, I will never speak evil over someone who is praying for this because it is a good thing. Even if it is impossible due to unforgiveness, the worries of life or death. The Bible is full of examples of broken families from Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David, and even Jesus Christ at one point had a broken family with His own half-brothers rejecting Him for a time. But all of these men, despite the tragedies, had their eyes on the hope for a better tomorrow and salvation from the world. They had hoped that one day, God will set everything right, and that there will be a new Heavens and New Earth.
To those who joyously celebrate the Holidays with family, you have not sinned. Let us be glad. Let us be thankful and create good memories. Let us grow as we walk through the valleys of our lives, never forgetting the blessings God has bestowed upon us and will bestow upon us in the future. Instead of being in gloom, let us be in prayer asking the Father, in the name of His Son, to give us more of the fruits of the Spirit. What we need is hearts of love and joy. We cannot let any season rob us of our love and joy no matter what. Let us all speak good over one another, instead of evil. Let us all love one another, instead of breeding a heart full of hatred. And let us be joyous. Because Jesus conquered the grave. Repent and believe, we will make it!