December 20, 2016
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. Unfortunately, the Christmas season is also the most painful and lonely time of year for many. People are recovering from stressors such as the lack of money for gifts, fear of credit card bills, disappointment over gifts they expected or hoped for, weariness from travels and rushing around, extra weight from eating, a cold from a month of poor health habits, conflicts with family about where to “celebrate,” or traditions that needed to be altered.
Sadly, some have even worse stress like being estranged from others due to trivial or serious reasons. Many are missing a loved one who will be absent from the celebration because of military deployment, death, divorce, addiction, suicide or incarceration. You see, addictions develop as coping mechanisms to “help” us deal with stress. So, in this very stress-filled season, many fall prey to their addictions in order to cope. We all have an addiction object like alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, gambling, shopping, anger, guilt, self-pity, TV, sports, our kids or details that get us through difficult times. But for some, this relapse is the start of a very destructive spiral, both to them and to the individuals around them.
So many factors have the potential to bring us down. These struggles are amplified just after Christmas, when expectations go unmet and the foreboding empty days of winter lie ahead. Many people really suffer during this next three-month stretch.
But you can be a Lighthouse. This is the time of year when you can make an impact—one more powerful than you’ve ever imagined. How? By taking the time to encourage those who are struggling. The word “encourage” in the passage below from Hebrews, comes from the Greek word “parakletos,” which means, “called alongside to help.” Encouragement can be offering an uplifting word, but it can also be 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, and offering respect by taking action—doing something for them—has an amazing influence on others’ thoughts and feelings. Show that 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 needs to be brought to them tangibly. You are the vehicle God will use to bring them this life-saving and life-transforming message: God sacrificed His Son for them!
Today, think of someone who needs you to come “alongside” them to help during this powerful, but for many, difficult time of year—your spouse, parent, child, neighbor, work colleague, friend or maybe someone you will meet today for the first time. When you stand alongside others 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 can you possibly give? God will even bring people to you. Whether you are alert and step up to the plate to help others, or you turn away and ignore their struggles is your decision, so choose well.
Lighthouse’s National Addiction and Counseling Helpline 844-Life-Change (844-543-3242), can help find counseling or residential treatment options for those caught in life’s storms with addiction or mental health struggles. We are actually blessed to play the role or the Good Samaritan and help save lives on a daily basis! Please feel free to call us or give our number to those you know who need some treatment options.
Dear Father God, I thank You 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 are helping me to become a courageous and 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