The Advent Season; Joy and Stress

This week marks the first week of Advent. For those who are not aware, Advent is the 4 weeks that precede Christmas Day. Every Sunday, another violet-colored candle is lit, with the 4th Sunday being the lighting of the rose-colored candle. Christians all over the world celebrate this time of expectation. They celebrate the promise that God made to send the Messiah. This season, truly, is a time to celebrate.

However, not everyone finds this a joyous time of year. Many people find this time, this season, as a time of hurt. Many find much disappointment when Christmas trees go up. For some, it is loss that stirs dark emotions. For others, it's the lack of finances that causes this Christmas stress. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that this season is difficult for many.

Perhaps you are one of those individuals who finds this time of year lacking. Is there anything you can do to "make it better?" How can we change our perspective?

Here are a few things that might help (not exhaustive by any means):

1. Understand that you are not alone in feeling like this. Many people struggle with the very same emotions during this time of year. These feelings are a burden to you and they are robbing you of joy. Consider this Psalm (55:22), "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."

2. Turn your focus off of yourself. When we focus on ourselves, we are guaranteed to be let down. Why? Because if we are honest, we will realize that we are not living the lives we were called to live. We are lacking. We have let ourselves down and have failed at life. Sure, you may have a great job, and many things may seem to go "well"; however, you still sense that something is wrong. The emptiness is deafening and defeating. BUT...God! Yes, you have failed, BUT, God! You have let others down time and time again. BUT...God! We must stop looking at our pasts, our failures, and defeats. Turn your attention towards others and their needs. And, most important, turn your attention towards God.

"Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!" Lamentations 3:40

3. Remember the "why" of this season. If you want true hope, remember why we celebrate Christmas. It's not about gifts, food, parties, etc. No Santa, elves, reindeer, North Pole, or Hallmark movies. Do you really know what this time is about? It's all about God! It is about Him coming to earth and seeking and saving that which was lost (that's us). Christmas is about a miracle that spans space and time.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Keep looking forward. The past is behind you! This Christmas season is just now upon us, and it is for you to celebrate. Look up, and thank God for His gracious gift. While there will always be stress, know that there is help.

"My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2


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