Dear Dr. Bill,
I’m having a tough time feeling joyous this Christmas. It’s been a difficult year. My mother passed away, my daughter became very ill, and I was laid off from work. So it’s hard to be joyful or thankful. It seems phony to try and act that way when I don’t feel it. So what should I do when everyone around me seems so happy? Do I just grit my teeth and pretend? Or can I be honest about how I feel?
My heart goes out to you. You’ve obviously suffered a tremendous amount of hardship this year. I know that losing a parent can be particularly painful. I lost my own mother to brain cancer a few years ago.
When life seems full of hardship, I believe there are two things we need to remember. First, the hard truth is that we live in a fallen world. Among other things, the Fall affected our physical bodies, causing things like sickness and death.
But we also need to remember that Jesus Christ came to reconcile us to God, to each other, and to our own true nature. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. No matter how much pain and suffering we experience in this life, we can count on spending eternity with Him. The Bible tells us that He will wipe away the tear from every eye. There will be no more sickness, pain, or death.
God wants us to be honest with him about how we are feeling. David poured his heart out to God in the Psalms, and Job cried out to him in the midst of incredible grief and suffering. So tell the Lord how sad you are, how frustrated you are, and how hopeless you feel at times. He hears you, even though there are times when it doesn’t feel like it.
I would also encourage you to contact the counseling department at Focus on the Family. They have wonderful Christian counselors on staff and they can offer you support and encouragement. You can contact them at 1-800-A-FAMILY.
Thanks for writing, Scott.
If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.