We're in the season of the year when dark days come with regularity. As we approach the winter solstice on Dec. 21, we'll see the sun less and less each day.
I think it's fascinating that Christmas pierces the darkest season of the year with its light. What's true of the physical atmosphere of the Christmas season is also true of the spiritual.
As a ministry leader, you know this is a difficult season for some of your people. They are facing dark days of disappointment, distress, doubt and depression right now. Yes, Christmas is a time of great joy, but it also can be a time of terrible sadness.
But it's not just your people who face dark days during the holiday season—pastors do, too. You're likely busier than at any other time of the year. You're balancing church and family demands. You're challenged to be at your best throughout the entire month.
But here's the good news: Christmas isn't the problem; Christmas is God's solution for you.
Christmas brings good news for anyone struggling with dark days during this season. The truth is, God doesn't just want to pat you on the back and say, "Cheer up."
God wants to use your dark days to help you learn new attitudes, new choices, new thoughts and new approaches. He doesn't want you—and all the people you're serving who are struggling right now—to just keep going. He wants to change you.
God doesn't just want to chase away the darkness this Christmas.
He wants to turn on the lights!
The Bible says, "It is even possible ... for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also" (Eph. 5:13, PHILLIPS). When the light of God shines on my life, it changes everything. It takes me out of that pit of despair and fills me with God's light. Through His light in me, God shines His light on others.
Pastor, that's what God wants to do through you this Christmas. God never wastes a hurt. God wants to use your pain right now to help others. But before that can happen, his light must shine on you.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:9 (NLT), "For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true." When you allow Jesus to fill you with his Spirit, He'll bring out the best in you—even when you're at your worst.
You may feel overwhelmed this Christmas. You may be going through really dark days. Whether it's disappointment, distress or depression, you are not alone.
The good news about Christmas is that now there is a light in the world that can drive away the darkness, a light that can drive away your darkness.
Jesus—whom the Bible calls the "light of the world"—will walk with you no matter what you're going through. Hold on to God's promises in the book of Isaiah: "I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you" (Isa. 43:2, CSB).
In fact, that's why Jesus was born. God saw our sin. God saw our pain. God saw our failures. So He came to earth as a helpless baby, as Immanuel, "God is with us."
To not succumb to the Christmas blues, you don't need to sing another Christmas song every few minutes. You don't need to wear a wacky sweater daily. You don't need to say, "Ho, ho, ho," wherever you go. You do need to choose the light over the darkness. God shines the sun on everyone, but we can choose to live in a cave. We can choose to be blindfolded. We can refuse to look at the light. That's on us.
Think about the first Christmas. I'm sure many people saw the same star the wise men saw. It may have been millions and millions of people who saw an unusual light in the sky, and most people didn't do anything about it.
But the wise men followed the light.
I don't want to minimize whatever you're going through this Christmas. We all have dark days when we don't want to get out of bed, when we would rather throw in the towel.
But as we celebrate Christmas this year, I pray you'll do what the wise men did.
I pray you'll follow the light, because that's where Jesus will be this Christmas.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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