Renewing Your Joy For The Holidays

sky-IIIThis year seems to have flown right by ~ the holidays are upon us once again.  It’s been a brutal year; one I do not wish to repeat.  2015 has been a year of struggle in my world, and human tragedy and suffering around the globe.  The news and the vignette on my dresser remind me of a prayer assignment for country I long to see; it renewed my resolve to pray.

Though some events cause us to feel like Sam Wise Gamgee in The Two Towers, “How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened?”[1] Even Sam understood that the darkness will pass: “But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass.  A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer.[2]

The holidays are a season of joy and thankfulness, yet every year I dread them.  Talking with my mother on the phone last week, “I hate the holidays”, came pouring from my lips.  “I wish they would arrive and just be over with”, I continued.  I knew as soon as these words poured out from my lips, that the dread and drudgery had taken control of my mind and my heart.  They came too easy; my fallen-ness finding expression.  I sighed deep, and in frustration breathed, I need to figure out some way to enjoy the holidays.  Why should I be miserable when I have so much to be thankful for?   Why should celebrating the greatest gift ever given to this fallen world, bring dread and discouragement?   The Creator of the universe desired to dwell with humanity and came to the world in human skin.  There was no fire or earthquake at His advent, the world slept as the King of Glory entered our chronos to tabernacle with His people, and to reconcile them to the Father.

As I reflected on my attitude, and why the holidays are so dreary for me, I determined that it is not really Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years that steal my joy.  They represent the end of yet another year that I did not accomplish all I wanted to ~ in fact, I fell far short of my plans and intentions, and the end of the year reminds me of how I failed.  I have promises yet fulfilled, and prayers unanswered, and another year means I am still in the same place.  I just don’t want to celebrate another trip around the mountain.

I also realized that my perception of the holidays reflects a stronghold in my mind.  I have been stuck in a pattern or cycle of false perceptions for many years concerning the holidays; if I don’t change my perception, I will stay stuck.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

I must cast down this stronghold from my mind; the sighing out of I must find a way to enjoy the holidays, caused me to be determined to change my perception.  I want to change the way I perceive them.  Yet this change must not be only for the holidays, it must last from January to December, because truth be told, I dread them all year ~ a hanging cloud on the horizon.  This is not just a momentary change for a season, I need to relearn gratitude ~as a wise bishop challenged his flock.  The way to break the discouragement is to be thankful for everything.  When I begin to feel discouraged, I praise Him, I find something to be thankful for.  Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth.

From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  ~ James 3:10

We must make the choice ourselves to change our thinking and perceptions.  A new day will come ~ if we choose to have a new day.  When we choose to change our thinking, we are breaking the strongholds that keep us locked deep in discouragement.  We must develop a habit of gratitude.  The bishop challenged the flock to journal the things they’re grateful for.  I have been privately, but I was apprehensive to share because it seems to be the theme of most blogs during this season.  But how can I thank Him enough?  I could write them a thousand times, and still not fully express my thankfulness for all He has done.

If we want a new life, or just to get out of the mundane, we have to be grateful for where we are now.  God can’t move us to something new when we can’t be thankful in the old.  I refuse to be unhappy or miserable during this season, I want my joy to be renewed.  The Lord will renew my joy, if I change my thinking and become grateful in the mundane ~ the Holy often occurs in the mundane.

If you feel stuck return to the Word to relearn gratitude.  The Psalms are a prayer tool, and a life line for worship.  The poetry and prose of David and the other worshipers are breathtaking.

I have been reciting this Psalm for about a year, in the morning and the evening:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name O Most High;
to declare Your Lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night
~ Psalm 92:1-2

These are a few other passages that I read frequently:

Give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever. ~  2 Chronicles 20:21

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 107:1

This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the
Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the
Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the
Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

~ Psalm 100

O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the
Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
in whose hand are the depths of the earth,
the peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the
Lord our Maker.
~ Psalm 95:1-6

O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
for You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago,
with perfect faithfulness.

~ Isaiah 25:1

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
~ Psalm 30:11-12

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

~ Isaiah 61:10

Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever!
O may Your glorious name be blessed
and exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
and the heavenly host bows down before You.
~ Nehemiah 9:5-7

Start by thanking Him for loving you and dying for you… if He does nothing else for me, the cross is enough, and I cannot thank Him enough ~ had I all of eternity to express it.

#1 Thank you for your salvation.  Thank you for loving me, dying for me, and saving me.

 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

#2 Thank you for filling me and sealing me with Your Holy Spirit.

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. ~ Acts 4:31

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation ~ having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.  ~ Ephesians 1:13

#3 Thank you for Your Word and Your promises.

Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD,
according to Your lovingkindness.
Psalm 119:59

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23
I pray this helps you have a new perception of the season.  I pray you will renew your gratitude, not just for Thanksgiving, but the whole year through.



[1] The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, DVD (Los Angeles: New Line Home Entertainment, 2003) disk

[2] Ibid.

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