Holiday Cheer   For our family the holidays are one of the happiest times of the year. Kids come home to visit, and time is spent with family, playing games, having fun, eating, and sharing time together.   As a pastor, I recognize many do not feel that at the holidays. Historically, the holidays are one of the high suicide periods. People see what they are missing, or think they should have, and depression haunts them.  

There is an adage that you see what you look for. If you buy a new minivan, the chances are that you will notice new mini vans on the highway, or a new truck, you will be surprised by how many trucks you notice. It is unlikely that since your purchase, everyone ran out to buy a vehicle like yours, but more likely you bought something useful, and others agreed with you, both before and after your purchase.  

If the holidays bring a melancholy to you or your home, make sure you intentionally put effort into what you are thinking about. This may be a surprise to you, but you oversee what you think, and you can decide to think about good things or evil things.

I have often told about a lesson I taught in Hong Kong that was very culturally confusing to my students. It starts with, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from building a nest in your hair!” This confused the translator even. I had to stop and explain it to her, so she could properly translate the intent to the students. The principle is simple, and idea can enter your mind, but you don’t have to let it stay. You can show it the door and refuse to think about it again.  

My father died several years ago during the week of thanksgiving. He had cirrhosis of the liver and needed a transplant. While he waited, his liver developed cancer, and he became very ill. The Doctors tried to do a transplant when a liver became available, but he also had severe hardening of the arteries, which the doctors did not realize until they were doing the surgery. He died during surgery. We buried him on Friday after thanksgiving, primarily so that relatives could travel to the funeral and return home without missing much work or being too inconvenienced by missing the holidays. Every year, a melancholy feeling invades that week. I allow a few moments to reflect on my father, both the good and the difficult, and then I choose to put the thoughts away, so I can celebrate the here and now.  

Even though it has been years, and I rarely share during that week, other than a comment or two to my wife, it still impacts me. Paul declared that we are to “Think on these things!” - Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Phil 4:8  

Now, more than ever, we need to be intentional in what we think about. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says - Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;   If you wrestle with what you should have had, or what could have been, or what should be, the scriptural prescription is clear.

Choose that you think about, and how you think about it. Let your mind be in Christ, and let your thoughts be His thoughts. Don’t lose yourself in things you can’t change. Be thankful for what you do have. Be content in the state you are in today, for he allowed that state to exist in your life to serve His purpose, even if you can’t see it. That doesn’t mean you should not change some things, and work to make it better. Sometimes you are in pain because you won’t do the hard thing. You will remain stuck until you are willing to do the hard thing.  Remember, He wants what is best for you and your family. Trust Him with your day-to-day life. Celebrate with who you have, and what you have, for someday soon, we will be with Him for eternity.