Finding Hope in ChristmasDec 23, 2022
Christmas can be a magical time of the year. As a chill moves through the air and perhaps snow begins to fall for some of us, a certain warm ambience takes over as well, making the weather somehow less harsh.
Early sunsets give way to longer periods of darkness in December, but the glow of Christmas lights is everywhere, serving as a hopeful counterbalance: in our homes, in our churches, on our trees, and adorning our downtowns.
Our homes smell of baking and cooking and freshly cut fir trees, and the soundtracks of our days consist of familiar holiday music, which always seems to be streaming from Alexa, playing on car radios, and for some of us even spinning on old-fashioned Compact Disc or record players. The time is spent shopping for that perfect gift for loved ones, and planning family gatherings. Also, for those of us who watch American football, we are watching to see if our team will make it into the playoffs on the way to a Super Bowl.
The Christmas season can be, as they say, a wonderful time of the year. However, it can also be a difficult time of the year for many. Some have lost loved ones, and some have lost jobs.
For others, prescription drugs and subsequent withdrawal have complicated everything—at times lending a darkness and chill to the season that has nothing to do with the weather.
Myself, even though I am warm-weather guy, I can appreciate Christmas and what it offers in the way of soulful reflection and family time. Hey, I even like shopping, and I enjoy some of the music, too.
However, I also remember that December was the month I got off Paxil, and I can recall how difficult it can be to buy into the holiday cheer when your world is turned upside down and feeling sinister.
Maybe you can relate to that juxtaposition of realities: the world is telling you “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but your experience is telling you, “This is the most difficult time of my life.”
But take heart. Be comforted.
This Christmas, even if you are finding yourself feeling alone and scared, there is great reason for hope.
Actually, there are two reasons for hope.
One is the promise of better health & wellness on this earth.
And the other is the promise that this earth isn’t all there is to look forward to.
In my mind, these two hopes are intertwined, made possible by the same God. He who created this earth also created a beautiful eternity that will be yours as well. And He who created our bodies and minds also created within them the ability to heal. So no matter how complicated your situation seems right now, I am here to tell you that healing will come your way if you promise to be patient and continue caring for yourself, through good times and bad.
Time and self-care bring healing. It truly is a miracle that can only come from the One above, just like the miracle of Christmas!
Back when I first got of Paxil, I had never felt more severely depressed or wholeheartedly scared in my life. There were surely many, many moments that felt like the end of the road—but thank God that there were also faint glimmers of hope shining somewhere in the distance. Just close enough that I could see them, at least in my mind’s eye, for a few moments a day.
Even in the midst of hopelessness I continued searching for hope, and when I found a sliver of it I clung to it for dear life.
I kept walking on down the road of healing, even when it felt as if it was leading nowhere, even when I couldn’t see where I was going or if there was a destination in sight. When I couldn’t see I walked with faith. This faith was based on promises that I’d heard others make—that healing was real—and it was also based on something internal that could have only been placed in my soul by God: an intuition, if you will, that eventually I’d realize the miracle of God’s healing powers.
And so I kept walking, crawling at times, and eventually my “wildest dreams” did come true. No, I wasn’t granted treasure or fame or the complete absence of difficulty in life. But I was granted measures of healing. I was granted calm. I was granted enjoyment. I was granted honest to goodness normalcy mixed with healthy excitement, which was all I ever wanted in the first place.
Eventually I found the realization of that first hope—the hope for healing of body and mind—and I’d like for you to keep walking forward with that hope in your heart as well. When you look at a Christmas tree or into the night sky this week, I want you to think of how that miracle of healing will be yours if you just keep at it.
And then there is the second hope that Christmas brings, the hope for true spiritual healing. The hope for forgiveness, faith, and vision. The hope that Heaven exists. The hope that eventually we experience an existence that transcends all of this earthly stress and nonsense. All of this fatigue and worry.
Surely God wouldn’t have created this earth, and each of us, only to watch us go through the gauntlet and abandon us. No, He has a different plan for us. One that is bigger and more beautiful that even earthly healing.
Christmas brings that hope as well, the hope of spiritual peace. The hope of true rest and restoration. Rest for our weary minds, and restoration for our broken souls.
From my Christian perspective, I see that with the birth of Jesus, a new reality was ushered into play—one where good trumped darkness once and for all, and one in which God saved a guaranteed place for us in His flawless and lovely eternity.
I think one of the most beautiful ways to picture eternity—in addition to being with loved ones—is to picture the feelings of 1) being close, actually physically and emotionally close, to the God who created us and loves us as individuals, and 2) being “light”, free of tears and worry. Without the burden of work. Without negative thoughts, and without guilt or anxiety.
Eternity is perpetual love and lightness. Maybe that is a good way to think of it.
With Christmas, innocence and order are restored, and when you look at a Christmas tree or into the night sky this holiday season, I would like for you to think of how, at the end of the day, there is nothing to worry about. You have the promise that healing is possible. And you have the assurance that you are forgiven, redeemed, close to God, and guaranteed an eternity that is more beautiful than the most ornately decorated mansion on Christmas Eve.
Take heart this Christmas. There are great reasons for hope!
God bless you this week,
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