12 Feb The Loneliness Or Busyness Faced During The Holiday Festive Season
Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year (CNY) are coming. Usually, when these holiday festive seasons come, there are strong desires produced in our hearts due to the external environmental factors. Some people need to be busy, some people need to be happy, some people need to satisfy their sense of loneliness. Everyone seems to have his or her respective needs. But if we satisfy our needs in the context of having forgotten the Lord, that becomes meaningless, and hurts our spiritual living as well. If we are to observe the people of the world, we will discover that people long to find some fun or try to satisfy their flesh (e.g. gambling, drinking, trying to strike a fortune, looking for excitement) during these holiday festive seasons. However, as Christians, we may also be influenced and tempted by these. Sometimes, we are whirled uncontrollably into these rhythms of eating, drinking, visitations, chatting or finding fun, until we eventually fall into a tired and empty state. In other ways, some may also feel exceptionally bored as they have not had their schedules filled up during this season. No matter what, we seem to toggle between these two poles year after year, holiday after holiday. Yet, we do not introspect much about it.
When the people of the world are attracted by certain kinds of desires, we need to be cautious and walk with God all the more.
We Christians are not blinded to spiritual matters. When the people of the world are attracted by certain kinds of desires, we need to be cautious and walk with God all the more. In particular, we need to know that, as certain holiday approaches, certain atmosphere will be stirred up, and we may become one of the two types. On one side, we may be driven by the culture and trend, such that our thinking, feelings, and actions are no different from others (for the sake of satisfying our flesh); on the other hand, we may accomplish God’s will during this season, hearts filled with joy, as if we have received rewards from the Lord. Often, during festivals and holidays, we seem to rush into doing certain things (e.g. we rush to visitations during CNY, go celebrate with our loved ones during valentine’s, admire lighting decorations during Christmas, or plan for getaway trips), our hearts need to be assured that the effects of doing all these are truly beneficial to our body, heart, mind, soul, living, and relationships. Have our activities led to joy of contentment in the Lord and in our blessed relationships?
Especially, when the Word of God exhorts us to be pure and blameless in this crooked and warped generation, and instructs us to shine among them like stars in the sky as we hold firmly to the word of life (Php 2:15-16). This means that we Christians cannot be led by the culture and trends of the generation. Perhaps, while people are busy with CNY celebrations, Christians need to hold onto church meetings and congregations all the more. When the people of the world only want to satisfy their own desires, the focus of Christians is on taking every opportunity to bless those in need. When we do so, only then can we be freed from temptations. The Bible clearly tells us to know the Lord’s will as the days are evil, and be filled with Holy Spirit (do not be drunk like the world) (Ep 5:16-18). In reality, after reading these verses, a lot of Christians still do not have a heart of deterrence against the culture and trends of the world. Our spiritual eyes need to open, and wage wars with the carnal culture. If people easily sink into loneliness or busyness during holiday festive seasons, we all the more need to ask: how can I accomplish God’s will in these moments, so that God’s people can be edified and His kingdom be built. Indeed, a holiday festive season may come to pass very soon. After that, the Lord will not remember how much busyness we were absorbed into, how happy we had been, or what special experiences we have had. Rather, the Lord may ask us, “How many have been blessed? How many harassed people have been comforted?” or “How much have we enjoyed in the Lord’s presence? How much have we submitted to God’s will?” We who have born again will never be able to escape from these questions in our conscience.
First, we must understand that there is nothing new under the sun, whoever does the will of God lives forever.
(Eccl 1:9; 1 Jn 2:17)
Why do people feel lonely?
Loneliness is a state of mind in which no one can share your feelings. Loneliness does not occur when you live alone. At times, when we are with crowds, we may also feel lonely. In particular, when people surrounding us are chatting happily, playing happily, but we cannot share our feelings and cannot be understood, we may sink into a kind of “loneliness among the crowd”. Some people assume that they won’t be lonely if they have a spouse, but this is not entirely true. If the one whom we are married to cannot share our burden, or understand our feelings, we will feel lonely and wronged as well (therefore, the one who always changes spouse is the loneliest). Although it does not feel good, let us not explain loneliness using external factors, neither do we use external methods to solve this problem of loneliness.
Loneliness is not resolved when we simply find someone to provide us companionship, travel overseas, have some fun, or when we get busy with things.
This is because, ever since man depart from God, we are living in a state of “afraid to be lonely, and cannot be satisfied in loneliness”. Loneliness is not resolved when we simply find someone to provide us companionship, travel overseas, have some fun, or when we get busy with things. Perhaps we have not received the satisfaction in the spirit from submitting to God’s will, hence we feel lonelier after doing all these things.
Why do people get busy?
If we ask: why busy? Some may say, we don’t feel that lonely if we get ourselves busier. Actually, in their hearts, they know that they feel lonelier after their busyness. Besides, some people are busy because they are driven by circumstances, feeling pressured in their hearts. This is like, when Jesus came to the house of Mary and Martha, Martha got busier in her serving because she was receiving Jesus as a guest (Lk 10:41-42). What causes us to be busy during CNY? Maybe it’s because we need to buy new clothes, CNY goods, prepare for CNY eve dinner, visitations etc. Neither can we not do all of these, but what is our focus in doing all these?
The focus is: (1) We want to have a better year ahead;
(2) We want to gather with our loved ones, and have a happy year. In fact, these two are also the desires of God, but they will also take place under God’s blessings and guidance.
When the anchor of our heart and mind is wrong, our labour will be meaningless.
Therefore, if we truly want to have a better year ahead of us, we certainly need to be God-centered during CNY, and not forget Him due to our busyness, or forsake coming to church meetings because of our busyness. When the anchor of our heart and mind is wrong, our labour will be meaningless. Therefore, it is not that we do not need to be busy, but having the right focus in our busyness is fundamental. Not only do we need to depend on God, we also need to bless our loved ones. In our busyness, we must ask if we have blessed others. Have we enjoyed our meals and gatherings with our family? Or we grumble a lot to them because of our busyness? As we get busy every year, we must ask ourselves if we have achieved God’s purpose in our busyness.
We may not achieve the desired outcome at first, but importantly, do not go into repetitive failures
Although there is nothing new under the sun, if God asks us to do the same thing every day and every year, it is so that we can constantly seek His will, such that the more we do, the nearer we are to His will. For the Bible says, whoever does the will of God lives forever. At that time, the fruits of our labour will follow us, and we will enjoy the benefits in it (Ecc 5:18). Busyness is not absolute. Sometimes, under God’s leadership, we may not need to be that busy, but enjoy the fruits easily. Sometimes, we may not need special program during holiday festive season in order to deal with the loneliness in us. The main thing is, we want to submit to God’s will. God leads us with the Truth, so that we can be guarded in our hearts and minds, and not sink into that helpless state repeatedly during festive or holiday seasons. The Lord has also given us Holy Spirit, so that we can examine what the Lord would like us to do, and the right mentality we should have. As long as we start to be led by Holy Spirit, we will not fall into the defeated states during the festive seasons, such that we will be satisfaction and joy whether we are busy or alone during these periods.
How to integrate faith into holiday festive seasons?
It is important to balance faith and living
The Bible tells us, “rejoice always, pray continuously, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Th 5:16-18). How does this joy come about? We cannot say that only ideal external circumstances can bring us joy, for this is absolutely incompatible with the truth, because we know that only the word of life can give us joy and satisfaction (Ps 16:11). But, we cannot say that we totally do not need external environment to bring us joy. That is also not true, for Lord’s presence is among the people too. Therefore, we believers have Sabbath day, and various festivals (e.g. Good Friday, Christmas, Baptism etc). If we look at the festivals and celebration God had given to Israelites, they have a lot in addition to weddings and celebrations, all these can accumulate and last for 3 months. Besides, we also see Lord Jesus and the disciples attending wedding banquet (Jn 2:1) and Passover meals (Mt 26:17). Actually, we know that God has fixed so many festivals for Israelites so that they do not forget His presence; His intention is not for these festivals to replace God. Sometimes, when people gather during holidays or certain festivals, God often brings joy to His people through the celebratory mood, and accomplish His will. Although our holiday festive seasons may not bring gospel meaning, we need to know, it does not mean that God cannot accomplish His will through them.
Learn how our Lord Jesus Christ obeyed God’s will during holiday and festive seasons
Often during holiday and festive seasons, we thought we have to get ourselves busy, but we never expect that the Lord’s preparations are even more complete.
In Luke 22:8-12, we see that the disciples prepared the Passover meal according to Jesus’ instructions, then they realized the Lord has actually prepared everything. Often during holiday and festive seasons, we thought we have to get ourselves busy, but we never expect that the Lord’s preparations are even more complete. The key is, we only get ourselves busy but we never consult the Lord. During the wedding at Cana, the Lord performed a miracle (turn water into wine), and manifested His glory, and his disciples believed in Him (Jn 2:11). Why did the Lord choose to perform the first miracle on a wedding? The main character of the wedding should be the bride and groom, but Lord Jesus performed that miracle to show that He is the rightful master of that wedding. Actually, when Lord jesus becomes the master, He was not taking the place of the bride and groom. Rather, through Him being the master, the wedding can now progress well and be blessed. Here, it brings out two important insights about holiday festive season:
- Do not bask so much in the joyous atmosphere that you forget the Lord. Every time, as holiday festive season is coming, men seem to have many desires and things which they want to do. But it is most important to ask the Lord how should the days be spent. We cannot forget the Lord due to our busyness, rather, ask Lord what should we do, what should we be busy with, what do we do first and last
- We win over people whom God wants us to reach out to during holiday seasons or banquets. God gathers people together in order to bless those whom He has chosen. Just like this wedding banquet, men often focus on the wedding and the happy atmosphere, yet Lord demonstrated the miracle so that people believed in Him. In this wedding, Mary, the servants of the wedding, and the disciples all saw God’s miracles, and thus the disciples believed in Him. Actually, the atmosphere of the wedding and the joy in it will soon pass away, but the miracles witnessed by people will continue to remain in their hearts. Perhaps, in a holiday season, you have deep conversations with certain people, or through you spending time blessing certain people, or you evangelize to some people at the right time, all these may leave a deep impression in that person. With this, you have accomplished the purpose of that holiday.
Holiday festive season exists for people, not for things or activities
In particular, be mindful that the Lord is not in that special day, rather, He is with us, and among people. Also, sometimes, the people whom God wants us to bless, are actually right beside us. During Passover, Lord Jesus’ focus was on disciples. He was close with them, such that they could understand the will that God was going to accomplish, and instructed them to love one another, and revealed to them His heart of loving them to the end, and washed their feet (Jn 13:1-17). Therefore, let us not forget to bless those beside us because we are too busy, or because of our loneliness.
Our hearts ought to be on people, not tasks.
Sometimes, we seem to focus on the good food, what is fun, what is nice, but after all these, only then we realized that we have not had deep conversations with our family and brethren, or show our care. Sadly, we commit the same mistake in every holiday. Hence, in this coming holiday festive season, our hearts ought to be on people, not tasks.
Things to consider doing during this year’s holiday festive seasons
Pray before the holiday, and try to be prepared so that we can spend it well
Because of the busyness of city life, time is precious, thus try not to react only when holiday comes. It is best to be prepared before it. Some people may be up for travelling, want to finish a book or watch a meaningful show, or spend some time with family, or think about going out and having some time with brethren – all these are possible. In Christ, God gives us the freedom to arrange time, and does not restrict us. In addition, the Bible instructs us to make the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16). This means that, before holiday season arrives, attempting to make prior arrangement is always better than not making any arrangement. Some people often don’t arrange for anything when holiday comes, hoping that people can come and find them or arrange some special programs for them. This is not God’s way if it prolongs, for we know that everyone has their own tasks to deal with, and their life goals to achieve. Thus to spend it well, we need to make some deliberate arrangements.
If possible, give some of your time to others, as if doing it for the Lord
In Matthew 25:35-36, the Lord said to those on the right, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Actually, sometimes as we open our eyes and look at the brethren and family members around us, we can take the opportunity of holiday and do a beautiful thing for the Lord. Maybe they are lonely, or do not know how to engage people proactively, if we can spend time on them, it is a beautiful thing done in the Lord! Sometimes, we may say, finally we have waited for the holiday to come to spend time with our loved ones. For instance: Feel like going out with lover during valentine’s day, or spending happy times with family during Chinese New Year or Christmas. If we are living in blessed schedule in our general daily living, we should be spending enough time with our family. Why do we need to top up during special occasions? Can a couple only be especially loving during valentine’s? Or we can only have meaningful fun time with kids during holiday? Certainly not! Actually, if we can bless those in need during holiday and festivals, and treat it as a voluntary and beautiful serving, this proves that we are submitting to the Holy Spirit in our routine daily living.
Practically offer the holiday festive season to the Lord
Holidays are times that allow our body, mind, spirit, living, and relationships to be restored before the Lord.
A lot of people offer money and gifts to the Lord, but not their precious holiday. Indeed, we need to be careful and avoid turning the tasks we want to do during holiday into strong desire (idol). Holidays are times that allow our body, mind, spirit, living, and relationships to be restored before the Lord. Therefore, during holiday, it will be best if each of us make it our top priority to draw near to God. For instance, it can be a simple family worship in the house, gather in church before you start your CNY visitation, and then arrange your schedule of the day. What we hope to receive is the fruits of our tasks, not the outcomes of tasks. Therefore, we ought to be God-centered in arranging our schedule during holiday, and introspect if we have received or lost strength after the holiday; or if we have received Lord’s rewards or we have merely satisfied the flesh, yet not been edified spiritually. This year, may God lead us through a blessed holiday season through this message.