‘Tis the Season

I’m sure you’re familiar with this Christmas season song line: “Tis the season to be jolly.” Christmas should be truly joyful. Think of what we’re celebrating! Sadly though, for many it’s not joyful at all. In fact, the holiday season brings out the worst in many people. (Although I read an article online which stated that December is actually the lowest month for suicides) First of all, many have forgotten or are unaware of what Christmas represents. Then there’s the financial outlay of the season and the hectic docket of things to do – shopping, wrapping, family and friends to visit, and preparing for their company. For those who are missing family at this time of year it can be troublesome.

I had a friend I worked with years ago that took his own life on New Year’s Eve, depressed because his pristine Mustang fastback was borrowed by a friend an returned with scratches on it. (Obviously he had some hart issues also)

I’ve had this verse on my mind:

Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

The words “cast down” express the idea of being bowed down with mourning. “Depression” is the term that comes to mind. And depression isn’t limited to the holidays. For some it’s a year round issue of their souls. I have lived at that “address,” and there’s nothing good about it. Depression will produce physical symptoms like ulcers and sleep disorders. I didn’t like facing it but I became extremely selfish. My thought pattern was, “If my wife would just do this, or if my kids would stop doing that, my life would be just fine!” So I treated them like they were problems rather than loved ones. Thankfully they put up with me till I snapped out of it.

The first thing I learned about coming out of depression was awareness. Until I was aware that I was depressed there was no improvement. I had to admit, “Yes, I am depressed.” That wasn’t a bad confession. That was simply admitting where I was at the time. I discovered the need to apologize to those closest to me for how I’d been treating them. I repented to God too! “Repent” means I changed my mind – my thought patterns – and adopted new ones.

One other thing, I had to redevelop my hope. Hopelessness is congruent with depression. The Word of God along with time in His presence began to build hope in me again. Thank You Father!

There’s much more to say on this subject, but let me close with this. I did a Bible study on depression years ago and found only one verse in the NKJV using the actual word: Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. Take two principles from this verse: (1) Anxiety is poisonous. (2) If you have a friend who’s depressed, the best thing you can do is give them a good word. Don’t preach at them. Just be patient with them and encourage them. They’re worth the effort!

Christmas Musings

Christmas Musings

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14

I can’t even imagine what this must have been like, can you? Just think of the “cast of characters” involved in the first Christmas. First is the villainous King Herod. [Every story needs a ‘bad guy’] Then there is Joseph…To think of the faith and love in this man, choosing not to destroy his fiancé’s reputation! How many men would believe a story like this: “Well honey, you see, the Holy Spirit came on the scene and, well, er…, the pregnancy test is positive.” Of course, that brings us to the female lead herself, Mary. Many scholars believe she was still in her teens, yet she faced the situation bravely and, at the angel Gabriel’s instruction simply replied, “Be it unto me accord to your word!”

Every role in this story is important. The shepherds needed to be on the job that night. [Not a good night to call in sick!] The angel of the Lord, along with the multitude of heavenly hosts, had a great message to bring forth. [What an awesome assignment!] Even an innkeeper had a part to play. [I wonder if he had any inkling of what was going on that night.]

The wise men won’t show up till later. But they will fill in an important piece of the puzzle, as their gifts helped sustain the young family in those early years.

I think also of the involvement of animals, like sheep and cattle, and the important role of a lowly donkey, carrying such precious cargo.

Without doubt, the lead role was there “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” The Son of God had taken on flesh! The long awaited Messiah was born! The plan formed before the foundations of the world was played out before their very eyes.

I wonder how much these cast of characters understood that day. It brings to mind that stirring song, “Mary Did You Know?” The Bible tells of her pondering these things in her heart. It seems that if anyone “got it,” she did.

And what of “the star of the show”? Personally, I don’t believe the baby Jesus was lying there, fully cognizant, thinking, “Let’s get things started!” I read where He grew to be strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. [Luke 2:40]

Yes, it’s a wondrous story. Better yet, it’s not just a story; it actually happened! But one addendum we must put on as we continue our Christmas celebrations: Jesus is not still the babe in the manger. He is the last Adam. He is the Innocent One crucified for the guilty! He is the Savior of mankind, the only door to God’s Kingdom, the way, the truth and the life. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Receive Him. Worship Him. Serve Him.