Happy Holidays! It’s an ironic time of year, where we hear about holiday joy and holiday stress with about equal frequency. Days off work, time with family, Santa Claus, gifts and laughter… Oh sweet holiday joy. Debt-enlarging Christmas shopping, hectic parking lots, too much time with relatives and extra cooking…. Oh sweet holiday stress.
The holidays sometimes can feel like a Charles Dickens novel: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Come January, you either feel refreshed, or you feel regret.
If we want to keep hope for the holidays, let’s start with the question – where will we put our hope during the holidays?
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Everyone burns out now and then. Working too hard can make us burn out, and so can trying to make everyone happy at the Christmas table. What are you like when you burn out? Angry and cantankerous? Tired and weary? Maybe down and dreary? None of us are fun to be around when we burn out.
Hope is what keeps us going. Hope keeps us fresh and strong. And hope comes from God. When we run low, we need to know where to turn to fill back up. We need to know where to put our hope. How is your hope doing? How is your relationship with God? Job 27:8 says, “What hope do the godless have when God cuts them off?”
Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. 11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”
Though we may try, we can’t always control what happens during the holidays. But we can control how we respond. We decide where we put our hope. Sometimes it feels easier to put our hope in other places besides God. This scripture talks about greed, which is a big temptation during the holidays. Envy and selfishness are two other common challenges.
What have you been putting your hope in? To answer this, think about what you think about when you are stressed and want relief. Think about your relationships, and whether they have been growing closer or more distant. Stress might open the door, but sin is usually the culprit.
Psalm 62 tells us two things we need to believe about God if we want to put our hope in him: (1) God is powerful, and (2) God is loving. But power and love are just two words until we apply them to ourselves. Believing God is powerful means choosing to believe that God has the power to bring real change in your life and hope to an area you may feel hopeless. Believing God is loving means choosing to believe that God is a friend who care about us personally. Many people feel lonely during the holidays, but we don’t have to when we understand the kind of friend God is.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
The Bible was written to give us hope. It can give us a fresh perspective on an old problem, encouragement to persevere when we want to quit, and truth we can hold onto when everything else feels shaky. What bible study can you do on your own during the holidays to keep your hope strong through the new year?