When there’s not much peace on earth or good will to all men

peace_on_earth

Millions of people across the world will be depressed this Christmas.

Death and destruction has plagued the world this year. With all the terrorism, political strife and rampant misery, as far as peace on earth and good will to all men goes, it may seem that there’s not too much to be joyful, or certain about.

As I pondered the sadness that I have seen in my area, in my city and beyond, I wondered how I could feel better about celebrating amidst so many unfortunate circumstances.

There will never be a time when there is no poverty in the world. “The poor you will always have with you.” (Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7)

How then can we enjoy the festive season?

I came up with a few suggestions which cost nothing, but give much:

Give what is free

As I walked through the busyness of OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, I wondered how I could make a difference to the mundane lives of the airport staff I encountered. They are just doing their jobs . . . thousands of people passing them, handing them boarding passes, a moment in their company.

I paused for a moment and said to the one, “I hope you are having a good day.” It was just a comment, but it acknowledged him as a person.

The next was easy. He had a deep voice and barked at each traveller on which way to approach the security. “Next –  this way please”. As I obeyed, I commented to him, “What a wonderful deep voice you have.” He beamed with delight. I knew I had made his day. It made me feel good too.

It costs nothing to be nice. Give nice this year.

Have a plan and simplify

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at Christmas time.

  • so much to do
  • so many gifts
  • so much money
  • so much food

Generally it’s busy, but it can be chaotic.

My husband and I are going to our daughter’s new home for Christmas. I chatted with her how she would manage. She was concerned about her oven that is not working properly. How do we cook a Christmas meal with a dodgy oven? “Simplify,” I said. I’ll precook some meat and bring it with us when we come. As for the rest, we can wing it. We can buy salads ready-made if necessary. Let’s make this easy so that we don’t spend all of Christmas day cooking.

If you have lost a loved one this year and it’s going to be a tough Christmas, have a plan and simplify. Plan what you will do, and psychologically prepare yourself for it.

Lower your expectations

If you have had a bad year and don’t feel you have much to celebrate, lower your expectations. What goes on in your heart is so much more important than what is going in your public life. Once you have your heart and mind sorted, the rest will fall into place. If you can focus on where you heart really lies, your mind will be directed to a more hopeful future.

My heart is safe-guarded by my relationship with God. My mind is focused on the future He has for me.

  • He protects my heart.
  • He guides my thoughts.
  • He fills my soul.

He can do the same for you. When things are going wrong, when illness or poverty is out of my control, I have to continually, decisively defer to Him. God has got the whole world in His hands. He knows every situation and loves those around you a whole lot more than you do, even your children. We don’t have to carry those burdens or anxieties. We can lay them down and trust God to sort them out.

For those who are having a hard time this year: when you give what is free, have a plan and simplify, lower your expectations and get the focus right, Christmas will be easier.

May you and yours be truly blessed this Christmas!

Helga van Niekerk is a Christian writer and social media commentator. She has more than 20 years experience in radio broadcasting. She is also an advertising and fundraising consultant. She presented the “Rise and Shine” show on radio CCFM for ten years before leaving to focus more on writing. She’s married to Mike, and has two adult children and a cat called Truffles. She enjoys caddying for Mike, doing cross-stitch and blogging at The Daily Blog of Helga van Niekerk, an extremely successful blog about her daily life.

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