Christmas is a beautiful, magical time of the year. There are many (I know of one family in particular) who love it so much that they start celebrating as early as the day after Halloween! (I have seriously seen this family decorate their car for our church’s Halloween “trunk or treat” in a Christmas theme, just so they could squeeze one more day into the season.)
What’s not to love about Christmas? The warm and fuzzy feelings, pretty décor, fun gifts, entertaining parties, quality time with family and friends….and of course, celebrating the birth of our Savior. But, oh my goodness….there is so much about Christmas and the holiday season that brings me stress and exhaustion just thinking about it!!
Full schedules, endless parties, costly presents, multiple celebrations, cookies to bake, performances to attend, an elf to hide each day (if you’re crazy enough to start the tradition in the first place) and Christmas cards to send (okay, I actually suck at this last one…but the guilt is there!) For so many holidays, our family’s tradition was to start food prepping a week in advance, drive down to my in-laws to spend Christmas Eve with the extended family, wake the kiddos up before 5 a.m. Christmas morning to drive the three hours back home to open “Santa’s gifts” and stockings in our own living room, and then to start cooking the Christmas meal for when my family shows up at our house that afternoon. It was a long couple of days, but so well worth it.
There’s no wonder the week after Christmas becomes a dead zone where just knowing the day of the week is an accomplishment, let alone getting dressed and brushing your teeth.
Combat Christmas Fatigue
In the midst of so much Christmas stress and holiday craziness, God’s commands still ring true. And one that has always been so much harder than it seems (especially when you are overwhelmed by the holidays), is this:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Easier said than done, right?! This mandate to be still is well known, and sought after, in our culture. I always picture calm waters that look like glass. Most try to obtain this sense of calm by being still in their minds, by meditating. Others try and gain this by practicing mindfulness, which carries the idea of staying present with all of your senses and not being carried away by festive anxiety or Christmas fatigue.
But there’s a second part to this – “know that I am God”. The purpose of being still is to know Him fully. We can’t truly be still without Him, because without Him that stillness is empty and superficial.
So, during this Christmas season, let’s look to God’s word for holiday stress relief advice. If knowing Him is the only path to truly being still, then He must have the tools needed to get the job done. To do this, I lean on one of my favorite tools, the Verse Mapping Journal by The James Method. This allows me to break down any verse I choose to get to the root of its meaning in my life.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
In this one verse, we’ve been given all we need to cope with Christmas stress, which is fitting being that the verse is a prophecy foretelling the One we celebrate at Christmas – Jesus.
Gifts for Rest During the Holidays
Here’s the thing – the verse listed above doesn’t list many gifts, only one. Because there is only one that is needed to quiet the Christmas chaos. Lucky for us, this gift happens to be multi-functional. Let’s break it down:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
This specifically states that the child (Jesus) would be born for us, and would be given to us. This means that Jesus was the first Christmas gift. He was God’s gift to mankind, to pay the price for our sinful hearts.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Everything that comes after this in the verse, is for our benefit. Jesus, and all his many attributes, was our gift to cherish.
The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder
One of the most stressful things about Christmas (or any other time of the year to be honest) is feeling out of control. The whirlwind of the decorating of trees, cookies, and gingerbread houses, the stringing up of lights, the shopping of Christmas gifts, and the stuffing of stockings. Keeping up with all these things and more can leave you feeling out of breath and anxious.
The good news is that God has given us One who does have control. No matter what your holiday stressor is, Jesus has overcome it. No matter what the stressor in the world, Jesus has conquered it.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The verbiage, “the Government shall be upon His shoulder”, can be a bit confusing (this is where the Verse Mapping Journal can come in handy). I really liked the way that the Message paraphrases it:
For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Prince of Wholeness.
“He’ll take over the running of the world.” This sounds like some futuristic thriller, but if Jesus has already overcome the world, and if He will take over running of it, with the government on His shoulders, then He can handle your exhaustion and stress as well.
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Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a personal therapist, set on speed dial, whenever you needed a listening ear and sound advice? What if I were to tell you that Jesus is exactly that?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14
The holidays can be a hard and lonely time for a lot of people, but we are not alone. Part of the beauty in Jesus being human is that He understands all that you are going through. He is not one who cannot sympathize with your pain.
When you need that holiday stress relief advice for whatever is troubling you, turning to the Wonderful Counselor who is God’s gift to you is the best approach to holiday craziness. Open your Bible, and read what He has to say.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
Our God is an awesome God, an almighty God. When we understand the extent of His strength and power, we can rest in the knowledge that He’s capable of all we can’t handle.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deuteronomy 10:17
For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! Amos 4:13
It is truly the magic of Christmas that this God, the God that created the heavens and the earth, knows you by name. He came to the earth to save you specifically of your sins, and to carry all your burdens. You are the one He is in love with.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
Not everyone knows the love of a good father. Unfortunately, many fathers have failed to reflect the parental love that God intended. But their poor representation is not a true example of God’s fatherly love for us.
His love is pure, filled with compassion, and a desire to see you grow. Growing up, my dad’s hugs were the safest place in our home. Any time I needed comfort, security, or a reminder of his love, his arms would envelop me and leave me grounded and secure.
If my earthly father can give me such fulfillment and support, how much more can my heavenly Father give?
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1a
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12
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Prince of Peace
Finally, the gift that can help prevent holiday burnout – peace. Jesus is the very definition of peace, and to find that true level of peace we only need to look to Him.
The best way to do this during the holiday hustle and bustle, is to spend a few minutes with Him each day. When you begin your day grounded in Him, you are better prepared to face all that the Christmas chaos brings.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
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Jesus is the Peace in Christmas Chaos
When the family stress at Christmas creeps in, or the festive anxiety takes over, cling to the true gift that we celebrate during the season and throughout the year. I know personally how easy it is to forget why the holiday even exists. The stress and the chaos, mixed with the warmth and magic of giving to those we love can take over, and Jesus is given a back seat.
But when we are feeling the effects of all the craziness, when it is all closing in, we can remember to be still with the gifts that we have been personally given:
The One who will take over the running of the world
The Wonderful Counselor
The Mighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace