Christmas in the midst of a pandemic is a lot different than what most people have gotten used to, and for many, the season could bring about sadness instead of joy. Evangelist Franklin Graham points us to Jesus, the only Person who can cure hopelessness during this time.
In a recent article published on Fox News, Graham says that because of COVID-19, "what used to be the warmest and most welcoming time of the year can now feel sterile and cold."
In a lot of places, restrictions are implemented to prevent the spread of the virus. Big family gatherings, office parties, and the like are highly discouraged.
As people lean toward safety practices, Christmas just does not feel as festive as it used to. This deviation from the usual practices of the season can make people feel lost.
"It's no wonder so many hearts are gripped by fear and anxiety right now," Graham wrote.
He explained how young people and seniors alike have suffered from "the devastating impacts of prolonged social isolation" because of the quarantines and activity restrictions.
And he is right. A recent study found that depression symptoms are three times higher when the lockdowns were put in place compared to before the coronavirus pandemic began.
The study revealed that "there is a high burden of depression symptoms in the US associated with the COVID-19 pandemic." Factors like having a lower income, having limited savings, and being exposed to other stressors contribute to an increased risk of being depressed.
Drug overdose deaths also reached record highs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent health advisory released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. said the disruptions to daily routines because of COVID-19 negatively affected those who were dealing with substance use disorder.
As pharmaceutical companies have begun to distribute vaccines against the virus, many are hopeful that things would go back to normal. However, Graham points out, vaccines cannot cure depression, anxiety, worry, or fear.
"While an effective vaccine could eventually help restore social gatherings and revive struggling businesses, it won't fix everything," Graham wrote.
He explained that even though people regularly receive vaccines that help them develop immunity against other sicknesses, "many still suffer from problems like anxiety and hopelessness" because no pill "can cure a sick spirit."
"There is only one way to find healing for deep, spiritual needs, and that's in Jesus Christ - the hope of Christmas," Graham emphasized.
Jesus is the only cure for sin, a "disease of the heart" that afflicts every person, he explained. He continued by saying that sin, which is "far deadlier" than COVID-19, shows itself through pride, anger, envy, greed, and lust, among others. But God has rescued us from it.
"Since the penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God, he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to earth to redeem us," he said. He explained that the purpose of Jesus' birth can be seen in Matthew 1:21, which says, "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins."
Graham said this amazing gift of love is God's greatest gift to the world, and it gives the hope that we can be saved. When people put their trust in Christ, their sins are forgiven, and they have a secure future.
"Only then can you know true hope, even in the midst of this uncertain world," Graham wrote.
"This Christmas, may you experience the joy that can only come from knowing Jesus Christ, the hope of Christmas and the hope of the world," he said.