“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….It’s the hap..happiest season of all.” That’s what the song says anyway. It would be great if this were truly the case in every situation.
But in reality, the holidays can be stressful. There are so many things to get done, and the weather turns dark and dreary and cold. People are more depressed from December to February than during any other time of the year. And if there have been major disappointments or if there has been recent loss of life, Christmas can be far from cheerful. So here are a few tips on how to stay positive when all of the circumstances around you are trying to get you down.
1. Remember Your Pit. This week was the 13th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I can tell you I have vivid memories of events and emotions back when I was first thrown into the pit. But I am not in that place today. Level ground sure does feel pretty decent when you remember what it was like to be in deep despair. I think of Joseph, who was cast into a pit by his brothers. I imagine getting out of that pit was his salvation. Even though he became a slave, and even though he was the victim of a terrible lie, and even though he was thrown into prison, eventually he was delivered and became second in the kingdom. Any difficult days Joseph experienced along the way were probably never as bad as the pit. If you want to stay positive and content with today, remember your darkest hours, compare those hours to the salvation of today, and give thanks!
2. Remember Your People. We have all had people and do have people that mean a great deal to us. If we have done anything well, or significant, or if our lives have amounted to anything at all it is probably because of the people who were present long before we had matured enough to accomplish anything. There is a reason Hebrews 11 was written to early Christians. It was a reminder for them to not be discouraged and to press on based on the examples of those who had already endured and won the victory. “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us – looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2). If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Elijah was told by God when he thought he was the only one that there were 7,000 more people just like him. You have people! You have them in the past, you have them in the future, and you have them today! Press on with them! Press on for them!
3. Remember Your Propitiation. “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). To be forgiven, to be redeemed, to be blood-bought, and to be heaven-bound is truly amazing! Jesus has done that for us. He is our propitiation. The word “propitiation” is similar to the word “atonement” or “appeasement” and it basically reminds us that because of Jesus, everything is going to be ok. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful for the grace of God. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that I am truly loved and worth dying for. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that this moment of darkness is only temporary. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that anytime now he is coming back to take me home to eternal glory.
I want you to know it is ok to be depressed sometimes. You are a human being and that means you are beset by weakness. Things in life happen and you will be hurt and disappointed from time to time by people and circumstances and just plain old living. But God is above the clouds. Your pit is temporary. Your people are nearby. And your propitiation is in heaven – watching, guiding, and interceding on your behalf every single day.
There’s more to be glad about than sad about. He was born. He was here. He is risen!
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum