Overcoming Holiday Stress

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31 but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

Are you worn out during this Holiday Season? Tired of all the hustle and bustle not to mention the political circus rings that are dangled in front of us by the media throughout the day? Are your gift lists growing but your finances are shrinking? Are you nearing your breaking point with stress?

Take some deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Now listen to what the prophet Isaiah says to the Israelites who were about to go into captivity in Babylon about 2,700 years ago. They were tired and worn out just thinking about their future. And you may feel the same right now.

People of all ages grow “faint” and “weary…but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (40:30-31b). What is our responsibility when it comes to replenishing our strength? We are to “wait on the Lord,” not try harder or utilize our willpower.

What does it mean to “wait on the Lord”? The word “wait” (qavah) means “to remain, endure, look eagerly for.” To wait on the Lord conveys the idea of relying on the Lord. Isaiah illustrates the meaning of waiting on the Lord by making reference to the eagle. He writes, “they shall mount up with wings like eagles.”

Notice that he doesn’t say they shall mount up with wings like geese. When geese fly their wings are flapping so hard it causes their heads and necks to flap as well. But when eagles fly they don’t flap their wings very much but rather they soar effortlessly. God has designed the eagle to soar above the treetops, cliffs, and even the storms. To do this, the body must be light in weight and extremely strong. To make their bodies light, the eagle’s bones are hollow. Many parts of the bones have nothing but air inside them. On average, the entire skeleton of the bald eagle weighs just over half a pound.

When an eagle flaps its wings, most of the power for flying comes from the downward stroke of the wings. For this reason, the muscles that pull the wings down are much larger than the muscles that pull the wings up. The flight muscles are so essential to an eagle that they often account for half of the bird’s total weight.

The bald eagle does not seem to have an extra ounce of weight anywhere on its body. On a large eagle the feathers are very sturdy but each feather weighs next to nothing. A bald eagle has seven thousand feathers on its seven to eight-foot wings, but all of them put together weigh less than 21 ounces

When it comes to flying, bald eagles may wait on a high ledge or cliff for the right wind currents to come. When the time is right, they take off and soar upward effortlessly. There is a special “up-going” wind or thermal that they ride with little effort as it circles higher and higher toward the sky. Once they get into a thermal, the eagle can just spread its wings and float upward with very little effort. The eagle relies on these air currents to do the majority of the work.

The solution to Holiday stress and fatigue is not found in worrying, but in waiting; not in running, but in resting. Instead of “flapping our own wings,” we are to “wait [rely] on the Lord” and He will provide the wind beneath our wings so we can soar above the circumstances, emotions, and memories that we may be struggling with this season. The One Who loves us infinitely and accepts us without conditions will supply the power we need to “run and not be weary, to “walk and not faint.”

Prayer: Father God, I am so weak and vulnerable during this Christmas season. I have grown weary trying to cope with my own brokenness and shame. In the midst of the stress, I can hear Your loving voice invite me to wait on You to provide the wind beneath my wings so I may soar above the treetops of my circumstances, feelings, and memories this time of year. I am excited to see the new heights and places You will take me in the future. In Jesus’ name. Amen.