5 Gospel Promises that Minister to your Christmas Stress

Rachel Jones | Nov. 15, 2018

It’s November—which means that, whether we like it or not, we’re snowballing down the hill towards Christmas.  

And my guess is that that thought fills you with a mixture of excitement and trepidation—perhaps more of the latter, if you’re part of the 61% of women who describe the Christmas season as the most stressful time of the year.

You might remember the 2012 TV advert for ASDA that showed a mum choosing the tree, battling through the shops, wrapping the presents, writing the cards, untangling the lights, supervising the baking, ferrying the kids, making the beds, cleaning the house, laying the table, cooking the dinner—only for her to sit down at the end of Christmas day and be asked by her husband, “What’s for tea love?”. The advert got banned for sexism, but I sort of admired its honesty.

It’s no wonder that the pressure to have a great Christmas—one that matches up to our own rose-tinted memories or our culture’s sugar-coated commercials—leaves many feeling overwhelmed. As Matt Chandler writes in An Even Better Christmas, “This is the season of massive shop-till-you-drop, make-sure-everybody-is-totally-happy, gift-buying, food-gorging panic attack.”

One journalist writing for the Telegraph reflected: “It’s not that I don’t like Christmas—I love it—but as a people-pleaser the pressure (largely self-inflicted) to make it perfect for everyone puts me on edge from the start of December. By the middle of the month I’m frazzled and more likely than ever to fly off the handle.”

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So what can we do about it?

What’s interesting about the article quoted above is the way it probes the reasons why so many people feel under so much pressure at Christmas. And it’s by probing underneath the surface of our hearts that we can diagnose our real problem, and apply the real gospel truths that will help us withstand the pressure.

Maybe your Christmas stress comes down to one of these reasons…

  • I want to impress. The reason you’re keen to keep it all together is because you really want to look like you can keep it all together—sort of like a festive edition of the Proverbs 31 woman. Nothing feels quite as satisfying as having people think well of you; nothing feels quite as mortifying as the thought that they don’t.

Gospel truth: Admitting that you can’t do it all, and coming to Christ for the strength to do what is needed, is what shows off God’s glory. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12 v 9).

  • I want to feel valued. Few things can be as crushing as a small child who is unimpressed with what you’ve given them. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were just grateful for a change? When will people finally notice the effort you’re putting in and give you the love and appreciation you’re craving?

Gospel truth: God treasures us wholly and completely—not because of what we’ve done, but out of his grace: “For [God] chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[  predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1 v 4-5).

There’s only one Person’s standards who ultimately matter, and he’s freed you from the guilt of not meeting them

  • I want to be in control. Maybe all this talk of Christmas has you itching to reach for a pen and write a to-do list. Everything’s fine if things are going according to plan. But as soon as circumstances beyond your control (or, let’s be honest, family members beyond your control) start to derail things, your internal pressure gauge goes off the scale.

Gospel truth: God is in control, so if you’re not, that is OK. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19 v 21).

  • I want to make up for my past. All you want to do is give your family the Christmases you never got to enjoy as a kid—ones where people don’t fall out, or where people aren’t disappointed by the lack of gifts under the tree.

Gospel truth: It’s not down to us to make up for lost time, because God has promised to one day redeem and restore all the broken bits of our story. “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21 v 5)

  • I feel guilty. Your loved ones need to have a Christmas with this, or that, or this other thing. If not, they’ll be missing out and it will be your fault. Or maybe you just don’t have the time or the money to provide the things you’d like to, and it leaves you with a nagging sense of guilt all December.

Gospel truth: There’s only one Person’s standards who ultimately matter, and he’s freed you from the guilt of not meeting them: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus … the Spirit who gives life has set you free” (Romans 8 v 1-2).

If your festive stress is rising, why not write out the verse that seems most relevant, and stick it up somewhere you’ll see it?  

An Even Better Christmas, by Matt Chandler, is a personal, warm and compelling book, that shows us how the God of the Bible offers what we all really crave—joy and peace—not just at Christmas, but all year round, and into eternity! It’s short and accessible, so perfect to give away to non-believing friends and family or at Christmas services and other evangelistic events.

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is the author of A Brief Theology of Periods (Yes, really), Is This It?, and several books in the award-winning Five Things to Pray series, and serves as Vice President (Editorial) at The Good Book Company. She helps teach kids and serves on the mission core team at her church, King's Church Chessington, in Surrey, UK.

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