December 28, 2012
The Christmas holidays are such a special time of the year. The anticipation, excitement, traditions, spiritual aspects, and activities powerfully impact children of all ages and become wonderfully etched in our minds for the rest of our lives. But, unfortunately, for many, the Christmas season is also the most painful and lonely time of year. People are recovering from stresses in many areas, like the lack of enough money for gifts, fear of the credit card bills to come, disappointment from not getting the gifts we expected or hoped for, weariness from travels and rushing around, extra weight or a cold from a month of poor health habits. Some had conflicts with spouse or family over where to ‘celebrate’ or other traditions and activities that needed altering to fit the hustle and bustle of the season.
Even worse is being estranged from someone we love – for trivial or serious reasons, or missing a loved one who will be absent from the celebration due to death, divorce, addiction, suicide, or incarceration. You see, addictions develop as coping mechanisms to ‘help’ us deal with stress. So in this season with the most stress, many fall prey to their addictions for coping. Whether alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, gambling, shopping, anger, guilt, self-pity, TV, sports, our kids, details, we all have our addiction object that get us through, but for some, this relapse is the start of a very destructive spiral.
So many factors have the potential to bring us down. These struggles are amplified just after Christmas, when Christmas expectations go unmet and the foreboding empty days of winter lie ahead. Many people really suffer during this next 3-month stretch.
But you can be a Lighthouse. This is the time of year when you can make an impact (more powerful than you could ever imagine) by taking the time to encourage those who are struggling. In the Hebrews passage below, the word “encourage” comes from the Greek word “parakletos,” which means “called alongside to help.” Encouragement can be offering an uplifting word, but it can also be so much more than that, such as an opportunity to come alongside and help in a more powerful way.
Showing someone they have value and dignity, offering respect by taking action … doing something for them … has an amazing influence on others’ thoughts and feelings. Show them they matter to you and to God by putting aside your needs in favor of theirs. The idea of being created in God’s image and having value, so much so that God sacrificed His Son for them, needs to be brought tangibly to them. You are the vehicle God will use to get them this life-saving, actually, life-transforming message.
Today, think of someone who needs you “alongside” them to help: your spouse, parent, child, neighbor, work colleague, or friend, or maybe someone you will meet today for the first time. When you stand alongside and offer help, you become a powerful vessel through which God channels courage, hope and happiness. You have the Holy Spirit within you, and you will bring Him directly to them. What better gift do you have to give than this? God will even bring people to you. Being alert and stepping up to the plate is your decision, so choose well.
Lighthouse Network’s free national helpline, (844) 543-3242, can help find counseling or addiction treatment options for those caught in life’s storms. We actually save lives on a daily basis just like these. Please feel free to call or give our number to those you know who need some treatment options.
Dear Father God, I thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to encourage me. I thank You for Your Holy Word that offers encouragement each time I open the Bible. I thank You for making it possible for me to encourage others. I pray, Lord, that You help me become courageous and to be a faithful servant who encourages others. I pray in the name of the one You sent to encourage me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
But encourage one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Acts 11:22-24