From the Season of Stress to the Power of Joy

By Hal Lindsey
For people who work in retail, hospitality, and emergency services, December can be exhausting. But on average, Americans work less that month while making more money. They also spend more, save more, and give more. Studies show that nonprofits receive a quarter of their annual contributions during this single month. (I would be remiss if I did not ask you to keep our ministry in mind as one year comes to a close and the next year begins.)
December is also the month when stress tends to reach its highest levels. Alcohol consumption spikes during the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year — numbers that rose dramatically over the last five years. A recent study by showed that 47% of men admitted to binge drinking on New Year’s Eve. 27% said they experienced a blackout or struggled to recall parts of their “celebration.” For women, the numbers were lower, but still high.
People are trying to capture joy and escape depression. But it’s not working. Suicide is up, drug overdoses are up, liver disease is up, car wrecks and other accidents are up, while life expectancy has gone down. Mental health professionals constantly give out coping mechanisms to an ever more stressed society. But that’s not working either. People are increasingly fearful, violent, anxious, agitated, prejudiced, angry, and depressed. For many, contentment seems like a pipe dream. At Christmas, “joy unspeakable,” has become “joy unreachable.”
Here’s the problem. Most people are drinking from the wrong well. In John 4, Jesus told the Samaritan woman about something called “living water.” He said ordinary water soon leaves you thirsty again, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NASB).
In John 6:35, Jesus compared Himself to a staple of life. He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” “Will not hunger” and “will never thirst” speak of satisfaction, peace, joy, and contentedness that nothing in this world offers. It comes only from Him. 
This does not mean carefree living while we wait to go to heaven. We will meet obstacles. We will experience emotional highs and lows. That’s part of being human. In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis spoke of the “law of undulation.” Lows follow highs, and highs follow lows. It happens because we live in human bodies still tainted by sin. But the Lord’s presence in us reduces the undulation by tethering us to Him and His Word.
In America and much of the world, we’re watching an all-out assault on the foundations of freedom and prosperity. But the liberty wherein Christ sets us free cannot be stolen. The folly of men can never diminish the riches of His glory.
Today, I and my team pray for you using the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT). “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources, He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
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