These days there is such a build-up to Christmas and then suddenly, it’s over.
In shops, the Christmas decorations are quickly replaced with hearts, the radio stations stop playing carols, and the colourful lights are put away for another year. And of course, the holidays are finished and it’s back to work and school.
Suffering from the post-Christmas blues is understandable—all the good cheer and glad tidings comes to an end and the humdrum of life takes over once again. We mourn for what was, feeling like there’s nothing to look forward to.
The best way I’ve found to ward off post-Christmas blues is to focus my mind and heart on what matters. But perhaps it’s better explained in analogy. Giving high fives.
There’s a right and a wrong way to give a high five. Connect and you feel confident and cool. Miss and things get awkward. Here’s the trick to giving high fives the right way: keep your eyes on the elbow. That’s it. Keep your eyes on the other person’s elbow and never again miss a high five.
There are lots of simple hacks like this to make our lives a bit easier. The wording of this high five secret reminds me of the life-changing advice in Hebrews 12:2: keep your eyes on Jesus.
Keeping your eyes on Jesus may seem too simple to actually work but, just like the high five trick, if you know where to look, you won’t stray off course. In Hebrews 11, the Apostle Paul catalogues people who lived by faith—those who “placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35) rather than tried to avoid trials. It’s the practical how-to guide to answer the question: How do I live by faith?
Paul compares the Christian life to a race—a marathon, really. I don’t know what it is about marathons, but lately it seems like everyone is either doing one or talking about training for one.
Why are so many people into marathons? For most people, crossing the finish line is seen as a great life accomplishment. With this as the goal of a marathon, it makes more sense why someone would completely change their life and diet, endure injuries and pain, and persevere past the point when your brain shouts “Stop!” Since the goal is worth so much more than the cost of preparation and training, people don’t mind the sacrifice.
In this context, Paul’s marathon analogy makes perfect sense. Why would anyone choose a life of discipline, sacrifice, and pain and suffering, unless the goal was worth more than the cost of living? It’s by placing our hope in a better life, which is the finish line Christians race towards.
Hope is in abundance at Christmastime. When the advent season begins, our stressed-out and overworked spirits are refreshed by renewed anticipation of all Christmas means to us. But how do we hold onto that hope and stay on course throughout the year? Here are four suggestions.
H—How did Jesus run the race? Not only did He take our physical form to give us the gift of salvation, but He also ran our same race to perfection. Study, observe, learn, imitate.
O—Obstacles are inevitable. Many think hard times are only for unbelievers but in reality, we all live in a sinful world filled with suffering. If we expect to encounter pain at some point, then we won’t be so shocked when we do.
P—Prepare. Finishing a race takes purpose and discipline. The essential disciplines Jesus demonstrated help us prepare for what we’ll face as we run toward our heavenly reward.
E—Endure. When we reach the point where we want to quit, let God be our strength. He will give us what we need the moment we need it to keep our eyes on where we’re headed, “that exhilarating finish in and with God.”
Just like a marathon, this Christian life is a test of endurance. But when we keep our eyes on Jesus, prepare for what’s ahead, and trust God for our strength, we are equipped to continue running with vigour and stamina.