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The Only Cure for After-Christmas Blues
Christmas is over. The gifts have all been unwrapped, the Christmas dinner eaten, the grandchildren have gone home! I begin to clear away the debris (there is always a lot of stuff to clean up) and I get an empty feeling. Yes, it was a wonderful time with friends and family. The roast and gravy were perfect, the pumpkin pies and custard puddings delicious! The Christmas cantata was beautiful and the Christmas cards were sweet. But now it's all done. The memorable events that I had anticipated since November are over. I've washed the piles of towels and sheets from my guests, and put them back in the drawers, awaiting the next visit of company. The last containers of leftovers are finally eaten and the refrigerator is beginning to look somewhat bare. I've at least begun the task of putting away Christmas balls and other ornaments, I've mailed the last late Christmas (now New Year's) card and updated my address book.
In the sudden quietness of an empty house, I begin to feel lonely and strangely sad. I pick up a book that is supposed to be very engrossing, but after a few pages, find it just too dry. I make myself a cup of tea and sit down to enjoy a real Scottish butter cookie--it's supposed to be the very best. But something is missing. Is it a little stale or is there something else missing? I try watching the Hallmark Christmas movie I recorded to watch after the kids were gone, but somehow it doesn't satisfy. It's a little too contrived, too predictable.
Finally, it dawns on me that I am looking for the only joy that can satisfy my longings--I am longing for Jesus! Not the baby in the manger in my beautiful nativity set, but for the real living Jesus Christ--the One who offers me fullness of joy, every-day joy, not just Christmas joy. Jesus said to His disciples before He went to the cross:
"As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:9-11).
Of course, I remind myself, I have been so busy I have forgotten to cuddle up to Jesus, to listen to His voice, to let Him speak to me He's waiting for me right now.
"Come near to him, and he will come near to you" (James 4:8). He understands what I am longing for and He says, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
An old hymn resonates in my heart, one I learned in chapel in college--"Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts." The words express exactly what I am feeling.
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts, Thou Fount of life, Thou light of men;
From the best bliss the earth imparts, We turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged has ever stood. Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee, Thou are good. To them that find Thee, all in all.
We taste Thee, O thou living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still,
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead, and thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, Where'ere our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see, Blest when our faith can hold Thee fast!
--Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux
If you, like me, are having "withdrawal symptoms" after Christmas, just stop what you are doing and come close to Him. Let His words satisfy your soul. He is the real Joy-Giver, and He will fill all the empty places and lonely feelings!