Maintaining our Joy Strength During the Holidays
Introduction: Thanksgiving and Christmas may amplify relational and emotional pain we carry during the year. Watching others enjoy the holidays may trigger our loneliness. The family focus of the holidays reminds us of not feeling like we belong. Holidays increase the amount of time we spend around people with whom we have broken relationships. We miss loved ones who are no longer a part of our lives. When our holidays aren’t what we hoped for or expected, it’s good to recognize that our joy strength may be low and all these things drain our emotional, spiritual and physical strength. What brings us joy strength is the experience of God’s presence, Immanuel being glad to be with us and other people who are glad to be with us and we are glad to be with them.
God’s promises received by faith and trust release joy strength.
1. God gives us promises to bless and strengthen us. “God is giving you strength today.”
- Joshua 1:9 Be strengthened and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
- Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength.
- Psalm 121:1-2 . I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. The Message
- Ezekiel 34:16 God says, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.”
2. We are strengthened by hope—anticipation of good happening.
- What are you looking forward to that helps you smile?
- Advent is a season of hope, anticipation, expectation, waiting for the promise of a son, Immanuel.
- Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
- Matthew 1:23 The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
3. When we feel like we are falling God’s strength is like eagle’s wings lifting us up. Isaiah 40:29-31 Even young people grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
4. Speaking out loud to Jesus, asking what we want Jesus to give us strengthens our faith. Bartimaeus, a blind man, shouts “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He answered, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Mark 10:51-52
We pray out loud “I open my heart to you Jesus, help me to perceive your presence in my life.”
5. God uses the prayers of others for us to strengthen us (intercession).
- Jesus is our intercessor: Romans 8:34 Christ Jesus….is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
- Philippians 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.
- Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
- Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
- Jesus help……have mercy on……rescue…….save….protect……provide…..deliver…..
- Blessing prayers: I bless you with……joy strength, grace, peace, mercy, love.
6. What makes the holidays a hard time? Life Model Works webinar, 2016
Jim Wilder: What makes holidays either good or difficult is the same thing—our attachments. The brain is designed for attachments. The thalamus is our attachment center. As babies we are attached to love or fear. When it is an attachment the brain doesn’t allow substitutions, We can’t give you another animal, or spouse or child. What brings us joy is people who are glad to be with us. What makes the holidays miserable is if someone is missing or is not glad to be with us. When we look forward to Christmas our attachments are in good shape. If we are dreading it— it is because there is someone our attachment center is looking for or someone who ultimately is not going to be glad to be with us. Many dread the holidays because of the attachment pain you or others face. There is no built in solution that turns off the attachment pain. I don’t want to think about someone who died, is missing, on the road away from the family. We may develop the Scrooge symptoms: “bah humbug”. We say, “I am not going to even think about, it or invest in it.” We pretend it doesn’t matter. When you do this long enough you can convince yourselves you don’t care. What causes the most pain is we want joy. When others act like they don’t care it produces attachment pain, rejection, loneliness, feeling unwanted. One person’s protection is, not to feel pain. If we are in a lot of attachment pain we are hurting too much to bring joy to the world.
Papa Joe: Jesus is the best one to be with us in our attachment pain. He is Immanuel, with us in our pain feeling tender towards our weakness, glad to be with us, knowing and understanding how big and overwhelming attachment pain is and big and overwhelming emotions of sadness, fear, dread, humiliation, anger and shame may be.