Did you know that Christmas really is one of the happiest times of the year?
In his article from the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham shows that our nation’s Google searches for the words depression, anxiety, pain, stress and fatigue take a sharp dip on major holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s all are among the year’s least-miserable search days. Also on these holidays are the least health-related ER visits.
That surprised me. Isn’t that when people are mourning the loss of their loved ones? When closed businesses and shut-down offices leave workaholics to examine their empty lives? Weren’t we always told that the holidays are a hard time of year for people who struggle with mental health? Maybe things are not as bad as I thought.
Before we celebrate, let’s look at what happens around those days. Studies show that as a culture, we get what’s called a short-term euphoria around major holidays. While some feel lonely, stressed, or pressured by debt before the holiday, most postpone those guilt-ridden feelings and instead get caught up in the moment. It’s only a temporary delay before January hits. So maybe it’s not a win; it’s just a delay.
Rather than getting caught up in the euphoric frenzy, what if we enter the post-holiday time a little more even-keeled instead of spinning out of control on the outside while hurting on the inside? Given this data, December is an opportune time to help people avoid a euphoria that ends in a crash. Instead of getting pulled into hysteria, processing all that has happened over the past year is one way to survive Christmas and avoid burnout afterward.
But how do we do this?
Advent is a season that starts four weeks prior to Christmas. The word advent means “waiting” or “preparing.” Advent devotionals can be a game-changer. When we spend time remembering that Jesus is our peace, hope, joy, and love, it helps center us in a world that feels chaotic. Through reading, reflecting, and praying, we can be reminded that Jesus is here to bring healing to whatever our struggles might be.
Jesus offers healing to whatever it is that you might need. Everyone needs healing. But that healing looks different from person to person.
Spiritual healing: You may need soul healing. It’s toxic for our spirits to be bombarded every day. Constant information takes your time, energy, money, and mental space. Jesus’s message of hope quiets your minds and hearts. The hardest questions in life have already been accomplished by the finished work of Jesus.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; ” Isaiah 66:13
Mental healing: Your mental state may be exhausted. What happened this year? A family fight? A failed business venture? Bills you cannot pay? Disappointments that can’t be shaken off? Jesus doesn’t want us to avoid those feelings, but bringing them to the manger and giving them to Him is a healthy way of dealing with them. When we see God coming to earth, it gives us assurance that He doesn’t shy away from our troubles, but welcomes them.
“Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me.” Psalm 103:2-3
Emotional healing: God gave us our emotions, but we don’t always use them as we should. We see from the Bible that there are no ‘good emotions’ or ‘bad emotions.’ Jesus experienced them all, and many were recorded in the Bible.
We tend to deal with these emotions in two ways: elevate them higher than they should be or ignore and deny them completely. Some people are subjected to their every little whim, and mood swings get the better of them. Other people downplay emotions. They are considered childish and ought to be stuffed down and ignored. People who talk about their feelings are sissies or weak.
Neither one of these are what God had in mind. Our emotions are there to serve us and help us experience life. Imagine going to the beach and not feeling a single thing! Or watching a great movie with no reaction. You wouldn’t want that. However, our emotions often take a beating and you may need some emotional healing.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Physical healing: Perhaps you are struggling with a diagnosis, mysterious chronic pain, or unanswered questions. Our souls and bodies are so intricately connected. When we are mentally unhealthy, it can manifest through our physical bodies. The opposite is true too. If we are struggling physically, then that can affect our mental state.
“Lord, you know how I long for my health once more. You hear my every sigh.” Psalm 38:9
As great as this world is, it’s pretty weak when it comes to healing. In most self-help books, there are a whole lot fewer words about what actually to do than the description of the problem. But the best doctor doesn’t just know what’s wrong, but he/she knows how to heal the infection.
Jesus’s healing touch is the heart Band-Aid we all need.
Jesus knows exactly what we are going through AND has a solution.
Through whatever pain you may be experiencing, Jesus offers healing. It is incredible what He promises to those who love Him. He doesn’t just diagnose us, He has the remedy. When you read through our newest and FREE Advent devotional, you will learn that the people of the New Testament were just like you and me.
They followed Jesus because He was offering healing that they were so desperate to find. You will find some who experienced emotional pain, like Mary of Bethany, who witnessed Jesus’s crucifixion. You will find some who had spiritual pain, like John Mark, who gave up when things got hard on a mission trip. Others had mental pain, like Priscilla, who was homesick. Still others had physical pain, like Lazarus, who got very sick and died.
This Christmas, don’t cover up your pain. Don’t stuff down your grief. Don’t distract yourself into an entertainment-laced euphoric frenzy. Come as you are and receive the healing you need.
After Jesus heals your hurts, you will be able to go and heal the hurts and pains of others. We receive healing in order to give that healing away to others. God’s Kingdom is always exponential: that means that it is like a drop of water into a pool that ripples out to the very edges. This Christmas, it is my prayer that you don’t just have a low-misery Google-search holiday. I pray for a low-misery Google-search life. Jesus, not Google, gives life!