I’m Grinch-y. I’m Scrooge-y. And in the back of my mind I’m thinking to myself, “Oh good grief, Charlie Brown. Can’t you get yourself together?!?”
Well, yes, I can, dear Lucy, and the truth is, friends, so can you. It’s a matter of learning to choose the very spirit which seems elusive for so many of us around Christmas – the spirit of Christmas joy.
A Scriptural Guide to Choosing Joy
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 4:6-7)
As usual, Paul nails it – especially in the last sentence here. The temptation to choose despair does not come from Christ, and it is through constant prayer and supplication that we allow His truth to guard our hearts. Dive into prayer if you’re feeling down and anxious; start small if it seems overwhelming at first. A simple plea of “Dear God, be with me” is perfect, and it opens your heart to joy.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Comparison isn’t just a thief – it’s a master of illusion and despair. God has given each of us our own individual path. When we compare ourselves to others (especially during the holiday season), we fling wide the door to fear and doubt. Remember that your goal is not to please those around you, but to please the God who knit you in your mother’s wombs. Feelings of inferiority will drag you from the peace of Christ if you let them, and that’s a sure-fire way to lose your joy.
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
I have a tendency to throw myself into engagements and responsibilities when I’m standing on the edge of despair. My reasoning is simple: if I’m super busy, I won’t have time to think about the things that plague me. But there’s great folly in this presumption, and perhaps you have noticed it, too. I attach to these activities a number of expectations, and when reality doesn’t measure up, I’ve failed.
Do me a favor. Go back and read that part about patience. Do you see it? God is patient with you. He is waiting for you, rooting for you, offering His grace and mercy. If that’s not a reason to choose joy, I don’t know what is.
And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32)
While Paul here is speaking about our call to forgive those who have hurt us, I choose to look at it as a reminder that we should forgive ourselves. If something is weighing on your heart, if you feel burdened by the stain of sin or regret, go to confession. Leave it at the cross. Know you have been forgiven and, from this point forward, it is your calling to choose a joyful heart.
Friend, I know your heart is hurting. My heart is hurting, too.
Let’s take solace in the words of our Savior.
Don’t be afraid to choose joy.