DEAR REV. GRAHAM: Christmas is almost here, and already I'm overwhelmed because of all the family that's coming. We get along fine, but just getting ready is so demanding that I know I'll be exhausted before they even get here. How can I keep up the Christmas spirit with so much work to do? —E.K.
Dear E.K.: Yes, Christmas can be an exhausting time, and I suspect many readers can identify with you. But God doesn't want us to be so worn out at Christmastime that we lose sight of its purpose: celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How can you keep from being overwhelmed? First, do your best to plan ahead. For example, make a list of everything you'll have to do, and decide when you'll do it. In addition, share the burden; if some of your family can help you after they arrive, let them do it.
But let me urge you also to set aside some quiet time each day — perhaps time for a brief nap, but time especially to read God's Word and reflect on the meaning of Christmas. Pray, too, that your home will be an example of Christ's peace and joy to all who visit this Christmas. Claim God's promise to the ancient Israelites as your own: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14).
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This time of year, I often think of Mary and Joseph, and the problems they faced that first Christmas: poor, among strangers, no place to stay. They, too, must have felt overwhelmed! But they knew God was with them, and that made all the difference. It will with you, as well.