A remedy for Christmas postpartum
Christmas is the greatest season of the year. It contains all of the key elements for greatness. There are connections with family and friends, food that destroys diets, much-needed time off from jobs and school, decorations accompanied with seasonal singing, and a wealth of presents given and received.
It is arguably the high point of the year.
But for many, the highest point of the year can give way to the lowest point of the year.
Now that the activity of the Christmas season is over, in its wake can be a powerful sense of emptiness.
This feeling can lead to the thick fog of depression and cold feelings of loneliness.
The reunions with family are over, leaving a longing in the heart until the next get-together. All of the high-calorie food that was consumed now becomes the object of fierce dieting. Work schedules and academic agendas are placed back on the map as the busyness of life returns. Decorations and other festive elements are stored away in basement nooks and attic crannies, leaving our houses a little less bright than they were.
The only thing to look forward to, it seems, are the long, cold months of winter.
All of this can leave an individual with a feeling of emptiness.
Fortunately, God has offered the world an alternative.
The problem with decorations, presents and Christmas parties is that these things were never meant to be the reason for the season. While they serve to bring a certain level of excitement and happiness, they are merely secondary, peripheral objects. They exist out of the overflow of the joy for the real reason for the season, which is Jesus Christ.
At the core of all of the frivolity stands the unchangeable, faithful witness of God in the flesh. If Christ hadn’t been born a little over 2,000 years ago, all of the celebrations would be hollow and meaningless.
It would be like a Super Bowl party without football. It would be like fishing without fish. It would be like dinner without food. Football, fish and food provide substance to the activity that surrounds them.
In the same way, because of Christ, the celebration that comes on Dec. 25 has significant substance and is able to impart true joy and perfect peace even after the family has left and the decorations are put away.
In Scripture, the apostle Peter describes the gift of God in the person of Jesus as mercy. Through his mercy, God does something incredible which we simply cannot do. He brings a spiritual rebirth, which the Bible says is absolutely necessary in order to see the kingdom of God. This rebirth is described as the old life passing away in order to make way for the new.
In this process, people are reconciled to God and credited with the righteousness of Christ. This is all described by Peter as a living hope.
It is not the better-luck-next-year kind of hope that comes from your team winning the playoffs yet losing in the championship game. Instead, it is a hope that is alive and stays alive because Christ is alive.
A house which is built on a weak foundation will not last very long. Just because a house may have a nice paint job, new carpet and a fancy front door doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a stable structure which will stand the test from time. Will the structure hold up during storms? Will it be able to endure earthquakes? Will it remain in season after season of sustained heat followed by extreme cold?
Only time will tell, but if it has been built on a strong foundation, chances are that it will last.
In much the same way, hope which is built on a weak foundation will never withstand the fierce winds of life, the subzero temperatures of loneliness, or the changing seasons. On the other hand, a life built on the foundation of Christ will endure the test of time and the seasons which come and go.
Peter describes the Christian hope with eternal adjectives, such as imperishable, undefiled and unfading. Contained within it for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ is the promise that their inheritance will be eternally reserved and protected in heaven, where moths and rust can’t destroy it and where thieves aren’t able to break in and steal it.
As a result, long after the excitement of the Christmas season has passed, the joy of Christ will endure in power no matter how distant family may be or how cold February may get.
Chad Cummings is pastor at Gospel Open Bible Church on South Grimmell Road.