An Advent Devotional by Stan Key
Although we would like to pretend that all is merry and bright, multiple thousands of people struggle with depression during the Christmas season, more than at any other time of the year. All it takes is seeing an empty chair at the table, an old photograph, hearing a certain Christmas carol, anticipating the accumulation of debt and unpaid bills … And suddenly we find ourselves in a deep pit of melancholy unable to find our way out.
Talk show hosts, popular magazines and well-meaning friends are quick to offer advice on how we should handle the Christmas blues: eat wisely, spend time with friends, buy a pet, join the gym, compose a poem, volunteer at your favorite charity, listen to happy music, go see a funny movie, etc. Feel better? I didn’t think so.
The only real cure for depression is hope. And the only place to find real hope is in God. The psalmist asked himself a pointed and direct question: “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” Then he gave himself the best advice anyone could give: “Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5). Christmas may bring depression to thousands, but if we listen to the angels, it can bring hope for millions!
Fear not; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born today in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)
Fear not … good news ... great joy … for you … today … a savior … It just doesn’t get better than that! That baby in the manger spells H-O-P-E. And those who hope in Him will never be disappointed (Romans 5:2-5).
If anyone had a reason to be depressed it was Fanny J. Crosby (1823-1915). She lost her sight when she was six weeks old, but she did not lose her hope. She put her hope in God ... And she was never disappointed. The optimism of grace she discovered in Christ enabled her to write thousands of hymns and poems, many of which we still sing today. Some have called the third verse of Rescue the Perishing perhaps the greatest lines she ever wrote.
Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Cords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Fanny Crosby dared to take the risk of hope. Will you?