As humans we have a tendency to look forward to the next big thing. This is what happens for many of us from Thanksgiving through the end of the holiday season. We spend a month in preparation and anticipation, looking forward to the big day, Christmas, and all the festivities that go along with it. But then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over and we look forward to the next big thing… New Year’s is just a week away so we don’t have to wait too long for more celebration. But then, just like that, it’s over, and this time there’s nothing but real life to look forward to for the next few months. This is when the post-holiday blues set in because there’s nothing very big for us to hang our hope for happiness on until summer vacation. How do we kick this depression that so many of us slip into during this time of year?
The problem with the post-holiday blues is not that Christmas and New Year’s is over, it’s what place we gave Christmas and New Year’s in our hearts. Each year, we treat the holidays as if they will fill some kind of void inside us, but as soon as the holidays pass, so does our happiness. We treat the holidays as if they have the capacity to hold our hope for fulfillment and joy, but they don’t. It’s like believing that a paper cup will hold your weight if you stand on it. It’s not the job of the holidays to fulfill us, that job is reserved for Jesus alone. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, God “has put eternity into man’s heart”, so we must conclude that only the One who is eternal can satisfy our heart’s longing (3:11).
What do we do with this information? Well, when you find yourself looking forward to the next big thing, don’t stop at Christmas or New Year’s or summer vacation or graduation or marriage or kids or the promotion or retirement. Instead, push your mind and your heart beyond this life to the time when you will be with God in his fullness… the time when the dwelling place of God will be with man and “he will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning no crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).