It is almost time for the decommissioning of the 2018 Leach Family Christmas tree. Not much fanfare involved. We will remove all the ornaments from the tree. We then will strip the once glorious Grand Noble fir of its lights. Then out the door it will go, dropping many “vestiges” on the way, leaving little reminders for the next few weeks of the brief joy our tree brought into our home this past Christmas season.
Taking down lights, wrapping up the nativity, boxing up ornaments, and finishing off the last of the Chex mix and Christmas cookies always brings a little sadness into my life. Experts claim that the holiday season can often become a fertile breeding ground for depression. I would suggest that the days following Christmas and New Years can often be the saddest days of the year.
The 2018 holiday push began early with continuous Christmas music aired on the radio soon after Halloween. Then there was Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the early rush to the local stores and malls so that we might secure the perfect gifts before they ran out. There is so much pressure put on us to do everything right so that you can have the perfect holiday that either will meet or exceed every expectation for a joyous season.
Yes, I confess that I am a Hallmark Holiday Movie junkie. I watched those “feel good, everything-turns-out perfect” movies throughout the season. I try to hide this embarrassing trait – especially from the macho men with whom I hang out. The funny thing is that when the truth does slip out, many of those men give me a wink and a nod, discretely whispering to me, “I watch those movies, too!”
But I digress. The point is that Satan has a way of counterfeiting the good gifts that come from God. The Evil One takes falsehoods and dresses them up as truths. He masquerades lust and promotes it to the world as love. And when it comes to joy, he takes an inadequate form of worldly happiness and sells it to us as pure, unending joy. And we foolishly believe him and his lies.
Now we have moved on into a new year. We have left behind 2018. We are back into our normal routines. Things may have changed for a month or so; but, the Christmas season, with all its unmet expectations, is past and gone. Where is the lasting joy that marked the ending of all those holiday movies?
The truth is that if we are looking for lasting joy to come from our holiday traditions, we will always be disappointed. God has not promised lasting joy will emanate from our earthly customs and rituals. However, the Lord has promised that we can experience ongoing joy in our lives and the source of that joy is found in Jesus. Jesus says in the Gospel of John 15:11: “I have told you this (that we are to remain in Jesus) so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Satan comes along and says, “You can find lasting joy on your own. Follow my instructions closely and you can be fulfilled.” As hard as we may strive during the holidays to manufacture our own joy, we always fail to find it no matter how picture perfect our Christmas season seemed and no matter how many Hallmark holiday movies we watched – it will not last.
If you are feeling a bit blue at the onset of 2019, here is God’s prescription for the New Year: Trust in the Lord for eternal joy. Jesus Christ is the only One who can deliver this fulfilling, lasting joy. The Apostle Peter reminds us of this true source of joy when he writes, “Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
A Joyous New Year to You IN CHRIST,