Advent-ually

by Chris Armfield

 

It’s officially winter and the Christmas-holiday-season is in full effect. I can nearly feel the cut of 

the cold breeze outside as I sit inside, fingers cloaked around a hot and freshly brewed chai tea. 

Looking through an expansive window from a local coffee shop in Greenville, SC, I examine 

withered trees bearing the battle scars of surrendered leaves due to wrestling with an early Fall. 

The common busyness of people walking and people watching on sidewalks, benches, 

waterways and patches of manicured grass has lulled to a few brave souls executing their 

mandatory A to B commute. The city looks lonely. 

 

It’s no secret that the presence of the holidays ushers in wanted and at times unwanted 

anticipation and change. For many, holiday anticipation can carry “exaggerated” levels of 

loneliness and depression. According to Adam K. Anderson, Ph.D., an associate professor of 

psychology at the University of Toronto, “the bombardment of media during the holidays 

showing images of smiling families and friends often causes people to start questioning the 

quality of their own relationships.” Studies reveal many people are experiencing what is called 

SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as seasonal depression. This makes sense to 

me on several levels. Sadly, I know many people who experienced the bulk of their abuse while 

family spent the holidays together. The temperature changes, the songs and the gathering with 

uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins serves a consistent reminder of the worst days of 

their lives.

 

If your mind and heart were visible during this season, what would an onlooker, like me, 

uncover? 

 

For some, maybe even you, a richly Christian word like Advent may conjure up fear or 

disappointment. Historical Christianity teaches that Advent is a season set apart for anticipating 

the coming of Jesus. Yet for many, Advent means “I’ll be depressed ‘advent-ually.’” If this is you, 

you’re not alone in this struggle of the mind. You are also not alone, right where you are, 

spiritually.

 

Sincere Christians are tempted to turn their focus away from Jesus to earnestly commit to the 

American dream, self protection, or whatever the online buzz of the day may be. The pressure 

to be more righteous or at least better than I was a year ago is also ever present. Preachers 

seem to be covering their listeners with a solid and heavy dose of the gospel of grace on a 

weekly basis; however, self-justification projects still loom. The pull of commercial ideals and the 

pressure of spiritual maintenance or growth has cruelly shifted the season meant for celebratory 

anticipation into advent-ual anxiety and depression. 

 

This is exactly what Satan serves up for the holidays. Do you realize he, Satan, is behind all 

sinning – John 8:44? Satan is behind the distractions that are encouraging misery instead of a 

spirit of merry. The scriptures provide a different narrative to believe, focus on and follow. 

In 1922, Helen H. Lemmel wrote a hymn based on Hebrews 12:2, Turn your eyes upon Jesus. 

Jesus is what Advent anticipates and celebrates. Television, shopping malls and online ads 

mention Christmas as the bait in order to switch your focus to what “you need” and “others 

want.” However, in “Advent’s coming,” believers are reminded to set apart mental, relational and 

certainly spiritual time and space to fix their eyes on Jesus… and the things of earth grow

strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Jesus alone can and does offer what all 

humanity wants and needs – John 10:10. Satan is known as the “prince of the power of the air” 

– Ephesians 2:2 – contrasting the “Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6 – whose Kingdom is of peace. 

 

There are only two kingdoms, dark or light. Which kingdom are you fixing your eyes on – 1 John 

3:8?

 

Advent is about remembering Jesus’ finished work that secured your salvation. Advent is also 

about anticipating Jesus’s glorious return where he will eliminate all distractions and 

devastations. Even death will die. His coming will cancel anxiety and fear. If Advent has become 

advent-ual depression or the loneliest time of the year for you, don’t lose hope. What the enemy 

of God, Satan, has been doing in secret is now in the light – Ephesians 5:11! As Christians we 

have read how the story ends. We are described as pilgrims, aliens, strangers and sojourners in 

this life. James wrote that our stay in this life is like a mist. This life is so short that unless you 

are watching intently for those vapor particles, you’ll miss them – James 4:14. 

 

Advent-ually your depression will die in the light of His glory and grace. 

Advent-ually your fears will flee in the light of His glory and grace. 

Advent-ually your losses will lose their grip in the light of His glory and grace. 

Advent-ually your abusers will no longer hold the place in your life in the light of His glory and 

grace.

 

My friend, Advent-ually Jesus Christ will return and “make all things new”– Revelation 21:5. Until 

that day, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will

grow strangely dim. 

 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of

glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are

unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

Chris married Jerushah in 1998 and have three children, Anabelle, Liam, and Alexandria. He is the Lead Pastor of CITYLIGHTS in Greenville, South Carolina, where he equips people to be and make disciples of Jesus. As a sexual abuse survivor himself, Chris has an uniquely tender heart for helping hurting people find healing.