The holidays can be a bear. I don’t mean a literal bear, but times of a great amount of stress. Christmas coming up has a lot of elements that create stress. Buying the right gift for the wife-husband, children, grandkids, friends, mothers, fathers, in-laws, out-laws is stressful. Choosing who to buy a gift for and who not to buy gifts for is stressful. Having a season when the funds are low and making choices as to limiting the gift giving is very stressful and humbling.
Stress not only comes from gift giving or not, but comes from the relational interactions within the family. Children come to mind when we put them thru very stressful experiences of parties, long hours of the day where we expect them to go along with the agendas. Going from store to store to buy gifts or shopping for the Christmas meal. Waiting in long lines for food and gifts purchases. Children missing needed sleep and waking up grumpy compound the problem.
What about adult interactions? Even the best families with great interactions can create stress when adults are tired from all the hustle and bustle. As someone has once said, when you interrupt the two essential needs of a man–eating and sleeping, you cause him to adversely change his attitude. Compound the stress when the relational interactions carry years and years of baggage from unresolved problems, and you have a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.
The stress around Christmas can be compounded as well when internally we may be dealing with physical problems that limit our ability to be 100% present with the people that we love. We may have gotten information from the medical community that challenges our ability to be present in our mindset of our life. This may be the first year or several that we are celebrating a holiday with one of our loved ones not being there, either because of death or because of that person is celebrating with a new family or is unable to come.
The Christmas holiday is a time where some or many of these factors cause us to need comfort and a sense of peace. Paul was in tune with these times as he wrote the letter to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 1:3-9) who were dealing with issues of stress and troubles in life. He related to their issues when he said, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” He was speaking about physical issues and stresses that caused him to “despair of life itself”. So what was Paul’s solution to dealing with troubles and stresses of life? Is there an answer to the problems and stresses that we oftentimes experience at Christmas?
The answer that Paul gave is in II Corinthians 1:3-4 when he said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” The very person that we celebrate His birthday at Christmas time–Jesus Christ–is the very person that came to give us comfort in times of trials, physical difficulties, relational struggles, and physical loss. He has come to comfort us “in all of our troubles.” Any and all struggles. All of our physical problems. All of our losses. God’s comfort is for you and for me as we celebrate His birth this Christmas holiday.
On this journey through life, we will encounter difficulties internally and externally. They may touch the very core of our soul. Yet there is comfort that can be realized during times of trouble if only we seek the one who brings that comfort.