The incessant song reminds us: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Is that true for you—or not? While we’d all love to have the sit-around-the-fireplace, hearts-full-of-love-and-laughter moments, the reality is often different. For many, this is not a joy to the world, fa-la-la-la-la time of year.
- 20% of people suffer from the winter blues or full-blown depression. That’s why December, the month of tidings of comfort and joy, is also Seasonal Depression Awareness Month.1
- Most people plan to spend almost $1,000 on Christmas gifts, putting themselves further into debt. This starts 2017 off on the wrong foot as the average credit card balance for those who don’t pay their bills each month is $16,048.2
- 1 in 28 children has a parent incarcerated. It’s 1 in 9 if you are African-American. Those whose parents are in jail at Christmas are more intensely aware of the loneliness and abandonment.3
- 100% of people feel insecure or lonely or angry or scared or tired or stressed at some point this month. (The ones who don’t appear to be are simply faking it.)4
That’s why our Merry Christmas greetings are often met with Bah Humbugs. It’s easy to feel Grinch-like when you’re pulled in a hundred directions, when you carry burdens and sadness, when you’re stressed because you know if you’ve been bad or good. (Deep down, you know the truth.)
If there’s a time the world needs—and you need—to be reminded of the hope that Jesus brings, this is it. Because no matter how much we are hoping for the perfect holiday, the reality is that nothing’s ever perfect. Buying things you don’t need will not bring you peace. Putting your hope in people who let you down will not bring you peace. Looking for answers in a bottle, in creating the perfect setting, in meaningless relationships will not bring you peace.
Right now, when you are feeling lost and alone, look to Jesus in the manger and see that God is with us. Because God was willing to be with us, that means God is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? He’s been for his people in the past. In the middle of a storm, Jesus told the wind and the waves to be quiet. As the disciples were hiding in fear after Jesus’ death, he appeared in the room and said, “Peace be with you.” When the time had fully come, God sent his Son into the world.
And he is for his people right now. Because the time is right, he comes into your personal stress and chaos and says, “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).
Linda Buxa isn’t quite ready for Christmas. Because it was still 70 degrees in November in Wisconsin (yay!), she hasn’t yet gotten the pumpkins off her front porch. Now that it’s below freezing, she’s starting to face reality.
3 Justice Fellowship and The Osborn Association
4 A statistic that has not been scientifically proven, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.