Not because they hate Christmas or because they have necessarily lost sight of the purpose and reason for the season. But rather it is because this time of year can often dredge up reminders of the things and people they have lost.
Sure, it’s easy to say that people should be joyful in spite of their life’s situations because the Bible commands us to be joyous in all things (1 Thess. 5:16-18), and while this is an absolutely true and trustworthy statement (especially since it’s found in the Word of God) the reality is those situations still exist and those losses are still real and the emotions are still there.
We all know someone who is experiencing this season through these kinds of eyes. In fact, YOU may very well be one of those people. They (or you) may have lost a loved one (or ones) to death and this season reminds you of the Christmases past you spent with them. Perhaps they (or you) have experienced a different kind of loss in that you have experienced the loss of a relationship
….either way…a person who was very close to you and you no longer are experiencing their presence in this season as you had over many Christmases before.
Perhaps they (or you) haven’t lost someone, but they (or you) have lost something. Perhaps it’s a pet that was REALLY loved. Perhaps it was a house due to a natural disaster and with the house went the memories and possessions that have been accumulated over the years. Perhaps a thief has stolen something of great value, or maybe it didn’t hold a great value but it was simply the feeling of being violated by a thief.
Either way, there are several people that surround us every day (perhaps even ourselves) that have experienced loss and thus, Christmas becomes a time of great sorrow, depression, angst, anger, frustration…you name it…all of the emotions you can think of has become wrapped up in Christmas and dredged up once a year as people who seem to be enjoying themselves around you remind you that joy is hard to come by right now.
So, what do we do with these people (or with ourselves) when we find it hard to have joy in spite of our situations and especially in light of a holiday where everyone seems to be so much happier than we are?
I’m glad you asked.
I believe there are 3 practical things (notice I didn’t say they were easy) that we can do to help combat seasonal depression and our lack of joy when we find ourselves in this place.
1) DON’T DWELL ON THE THINGS OR PEOPLE YOU DON’T HAVE, BUT FIND THE BLESSINGS IN THE THINGS AND PEOPLE YOU DO HAVE.
This may be easier said than done, especially when the things or people you don’t have were things and people that were especially near and dear to your heart.
Yes, you have lost someone or something, and yes they were important and should absolutely never be forgotten…but think of all the things and people that are still in your life. They haven’t gone anywhere.
They are still right here. They are still waiting to be enjoyed.
They are still waiting to be with you.
2) DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF FROM THOSE WHO ARE STILL HERE AND THAT LOVE YOU. INSTEAD, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THESE PEOPLE AND ENJOY THEIR COMPANY.
You have not been completely abandoned. Sure, you may have lost someone that you really love…but there are still LOTS of people left that love you and want to be near you. They exist in the forms of both family and friends.
Yes, it is true, you can’t have the person with you that you lost and it is a very hard thing to handle. It is OK to acknowledge that. And it is absolutely OK to mourn over that.
However, the people that are still here are just an arms length away.
Don’t isolate yourself from them.
They want to be with you.
They want to make you smile.
They want to hug you.
They want to love you.
3) REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS NOT ABANDONED YOU.
God made a promise to you.
Actually, He made several. But here are just a few:
He promised that He has plans for you and that these plans are to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
He promised that He would give the weary peace and rest. You are emotionally weary so yes, this includes you (Matthew 11:28-29)!
He promised to give you power and strength when you are weak (Isaiah 40:29-31).
He promised that He would take care of all of your needs. Yes, this includes your need to be comforted in a time of loss and pain (Philippians 4:19).
He promised to give you victory. Yes, even victory over depression and loss, and that nothing would separate you from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
He promised to give you peace of mind and heart, something the world cannot give to you (John 14:27).
So, wherever you find yourself this Christmas, please bear in mind that there are those out there right now who are hurting (or maybe it’s you) and are struggling to find peace, happiness, joy, and comfort in a season that should exemplify those things.
Keep them in your prayers, reach out to them, and most importantly surround them with the love of God.
Merry Christmas everyone!