Summary: An advent sermon which rehearses God’s character, and how that can help us deal with our depression.
Christmas Comfort for the Discouraged
1Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD:
look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. 2Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:
for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
3For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places;
and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 4Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me,
O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me,
and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
5My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth,
and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me,
and on mine arm shall they trust.
6Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath:
for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law;
fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
8For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
Woody Allen has made one of the most profound, discouraging, and sacrilegious statements ever --
"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness; the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
If that isn’t pessimism defined, I have missed it entirely.
You know that a pessimist is one who feels bad when he feels good for fear he will feel worse when he feels better.
Many people are discouraged today. It is especially conspicuous during the holidays. Discouragement leads to pessimism, despair and cynicism.
This cycle of discouragement, depression, cynicism, despair needs to be broken. There has to be a place to go when we’ve reached the bottom.
The question is, How do you do it? How do you have a breakthrough, when the whole world seems rotten? How do you break through to the joy-filled life in Christ you hear "other" people talking about? Is there such a thing? Is there life after Christmas?
If you will pardon what seems to be an over-simplification, I want to say to you that Christmas itself is the answer. I do not refer to tinsel, presents and a mountain of credit-card carbons.
Rather, it is the reality of Christmas, without those "trappings," which gives us the answer to the problem of being discouraged. The good news is that it is for all year long -- not just December!
You have considered other ways to break the depression; now consider the LORD...
Christmas is a call to
Consider God’s Character
Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness,
ye that seek the LORD:
look unto the rock whence ye are hewn,
and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
-- Isaiah 51:1
Isaiah writes to the family of God -- to those who seek after righteousness, and the LORD. He says, "hearken." This means pay attention and do something about what I’m going to say.
What is Isaiah’s advice to broken and discouraged people? He says, Look to the rock you’ve been cut from, the hole of the pit from which you’re drawn. This is like saying, look at the mold of that Christmas cookie cutter -- see it’s shape -- do you know what it represents?
Christmas is a time when we recall God’s character, and that we are formed from that mold, by the hands of the Potter, Himself. This is a time when we should be seeking to look into the face of the One who loved us and came for us. David said it:
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee,my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
-- Psalms 63:1
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
-- Psalms 119:2
My mother said it to me often, and I have said it to my children when they go off into the world -- Remember who you are. Remember whose you are!