Wouldn’t you love to live in a Norman Rockwell painting or on a Currier and Ives card in December? Christmas is when we want to roast chestnuts on an open fire, deck the halls with boughs of holly, ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hang our stockings by the chimney with care, and have ourselves a merry little Christmas.
Year after year we try to create a perfect picture-postcard experience during the holidays, but the effort seems counterproductive. Instead of the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year—a whirlwind of traveling, shopping, spending, entertaining, and even churching. It’s hard to have joy in a whirl.
According to the American Psychological Association, seven out of ten people feel stress from not having enough time for their Christmas activities, and the same number worry about having enough money.
Not surprisingly, most of the stress falls on women. Far more women than men worry about having enough money for gift-giving, and women are more likely to take on added workloads by running to purchase last-minute gifts and working overtime in the kitchen to feed all the guests.
So how can you bring joy to the whirl?
Choose a Joy Verse for the Season
Why not begin by choosing a joy verse for the season? There are hundreds of texts about joy and rejoicing in the Bible. Comb through the Bible for a verse and say something like: This Christmas the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). This Christmas I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle (Psalm 27:6). This Christmas my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation (Psalm 35:9). This Christmas, I will rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).
Following through on that takes intentional planning. We’ll give you several ideas to bring joy to the whirl, but the first one is—plan in advance to be joyful and to give joy.
Identify Joy Killers
Next identify the things that steal your joy. If it’s overscheduling, remember you control that in advance. When I’m having trouble saying “No” to an invitation, I decide if that event can go on without me. If it can, it makes the decision to politely decline much easier.
Another joy stealer comes when we handle memories the wrong way. We treasure our memories, but we shouldn’t let them cast us down. View your past from an eternal perspective as part of God’s tapestry. In every event there’s an item of praise. In every memory, there’s a foothold for thanksgiving. Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report—think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
Implement a Joy Plan
Then implement a joy plan. If more stresses you out, decide to do less this year. Perhaps create a holiday ambiance with fewer decorations. Focus on a tree, a festive centerpiece, a mantel display, or a well-placed nativity set—but not on all four. Use inexpensive candles here and there to create simple warmth. Don’t unbox all your decorations.
Do less shopping. Decide in advance what you can afford per person, keep the names and amounts on a private list, and check them off throughout the month. Don’t try to do it all at once, and stick to your budget.
Do less entertaining. Be selective where you go and whom you invite. Don’t be afraid to ask friends to bring a dish or two if you’re having a function.
If you’re traveling, cut your trip short a day to give yourself time at home before heading back to work. This isn’t always possible, of course, but a buffer-day can be a lifesaver.
Be a Joy Giver
Most of all, remember that you’re managing your holidays not just for your own benefit but so you’ll be more cheerful for others. Emotions are infectious. If you’re stressed, your tension will spread like the tide. But a smile, a cheerful word, a kind look, a laugh, a warm embrace, an uplifting conversation—those are gifts that go right to the heart and spread the true spirit of Christmas.
If you’re joyful in the whirl, you can bring joy to the world. Let’s make sure we don’t exclude the Lord Jesus from any aspect of His birthday month.
 “Women and the Holiday Blues” at http://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/news/holiday-blues.aspx.
Those tiny, temporary wisps of ice we call snowflakes are a wonder of creation. They are the artwork of the heavens, God’s celestial geometry.
There’s no easy way to explain the complexities of a simple snowflake. When you see millions of them falling across the mountains or prairies or among the skyscrapers of your city, just think that each one began as a wisp of water vapor or a tiny droplet of moisture high in the earth’s atmosphere. A small sheath of ice formed around it until it became a crystal of ice. As these tiny crystals blew around like dust in the clouds, they grew in size and became heavy enough to tumble out of the cloud.Worn-Out Knees
On February 26, 1829, a Jewish boy named Loeb Strauss was born in a cottage in the Bavarian village of Buttenheim. As a young man, Loeb changed his name to Levi and wound up in California, where he opened a textile company. One day, a gold miner walked into Levi’s shop. “Look at these,” said the miner, pointing to his pants. “I bought them six months ago, and now they are full of holes!” When Levi asked why, the miner explained, “We work on our knees most of the time.”
“What you need is some really strong material,” replied Levi. A tailor was called—and the rest is history. Soon miners across the West were wearing Levi Strauss’s jeans.
It seems to me that we Christians should have the same problem that plagued that miner—worn-out pants—for we ought to do most of our work on our knees.Finding the Lesson
A man named Gary Kildall wrote the first complete software operating system for a personal-style computer. In the 1980s, IBM executives flew to the West Coast with every intention of inking a deal with Kildall to license his operating system for installation in every personal computer IBM would sell. But Silicon Valley legend has it that Kildall never showed up for the meeting, opting to go flying in his newly acquired airplane instead.
Put off by Kildall’s lack of interest, IBM began looking around for another software package and found a small company called Microsoft, founded by a Harvard dropout named Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen. The rest is business and financial history. Gary Kildall passed up a potential opportunity to be where Microsoft is today.
According to Matthew 24, worldwide devastation is one of the signs of the End Times. Dr. David Jeremiah explains how the coronavirus relates to these signs, and he describes six lessons we can learn from the pandemic.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah