I was thinking this morning about people who dread the holidays.
I have a good friend who is in the middle of a separation from his wife. He can't be looking forward to this holiday season too much. Others have lost loved ones this year, like my father-in-law did a couple of years ago; everybody in the family misses Linda during the holidays. For many this year money is tight, and maybe they are wondering how they can afford gifts for their families... particularly for children. Maybe they are trying to figure out which faction of family members to spend time with this year. There are so many reasons why people might have lost their enthusiasm for this time of year, and I pray that if you are reading this and you are one of those people, that God will bring peace to your heart, peace to your situation, and joy to your holidays this year.
But there's another reason why people may have lost their enthusiasm for this time of year, and I know I've been struck by this one before: the "oh no, here it comes again" thing. Where the holidays seem like just another part of the year to be navigated safely. Where you feel like the season is a truck that hit you last time, and there's no chance of getting out of the street in time this time either. Extra responsibilities. Uncomfortable family relationships in close quarters. Expenses. It can seem like all you're trying to to is get prepared to withstand the punch that didn't knock you down last year, but might this year.
Children don't generally have that problem. Kids who have the advantages of loving families (and even sometimes kids who don't have that advantage) lofe Thanksgiving, Christmas, the whole deal. Why is that? Because they don't see the holidays as a challenge. They see the possibilities. They see that there is no school, nothing but playtime. They see that Aunt and Uncle Whoever will be in town for the first time since last year. They see that Mom and Dad will have a gift for them, and then so will Santa! They see getting to sing Christmas carols, and if they're lucky in their part of the world, they may get to throw a snowball or two. Kids see potential. They see what could be, while we adults sometimes tend to see what has been. Actually, I guess what we adults tend to do sometimes is to look into the future and extrapolate disaster. We're looking at what "could be" as well, but we don't see potential; we see heartache, or embarrassment, or tears. We are allowing ourselves to be gripped by the fear or failure or calamity, while our children's excitement grows because they believe that everything is going to be wonderful!
When God is in your life, when Jesus is your Savior, faith means what? It means looking into the future with our mind's eye and seeing that God will make all things work together for our good (see Romans 8:28). The negative version of faith is called "fear" and when we look into the future and forecast doom, we are running away from faith and toward fear. Is that the right attitude for a Christian to have? I think not.
Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't plan for the holidays and try to make sure nothing bad happens; we want everyone to have a great time. Foreseeing things that need to be taken care of ahead of time is part of that. But once everything is thought of and you've done your best to make everything perfect, trust in God this holiday season to fill in the gaps in your plans. This is a perfect opportunity for us each to exercise his or her faith and show God that we trust Him to work in our lives.