This Christmas season my heart goes out to those who are struggling. Pain and suffering at this time of year can be exceedingly real. The shorter and grayer days, and longer and colder nights, can’t help.
The idea that everyone is happy in December is pure fiction. An estimated ten million Americans – at least – suffer from what psychologists call Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). I just call it “the holiday blues,” and I’ll thank Elvis for the prodding on that one.
For all of us, the holidays bring with them a tremendous pressure to be “merry.” All the while, merry we may not be. For a million reasons, including fears about not having enough money to make every loved one’s dream come true, Christmas can be exceptionally difficult. Holiday family gatherings can bring out into the open all of the dysfunction that we’ve managed to hide all year long. It’s kind of like when the White Witch unleashes her wrath on Narnia.
At any time of year, depression can make a person feel utterly alone – even when surrounded by people and festivities. The high expectations associated with Christmas can exacerbate the feelings of isolation and sorrow.
Don’t get me wrong: the Christmas message is always good news! But that doesn’t mean that the experience of the Christmas holiday will always feel good. God entered the world for us: fantastic! Making sense of my own world: not always so easy. C.S. Lewis, the creator of Narnia, expressed it like this: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
May I tell you something from my heart? Jesus did not come just for the happy who seem to be hanging out on Cloud 9. Jesus tended to focus on chewed-up-and-spit-out sinners, and lepers, and other down-and-outers in fact. He loved the poor and needy. He tended to rescue those who’d made a darn-near wreck of everything about their lives. As I read my Bible, it appears to me that Christ’s heart is drawn to the dreamless and depressed.
May I tell you something else? Jesus knows all your demons. All your blind spots. All your phoniness. And all your darkness. He can handle it. All of it. And, though Christ may not fix everything that’s broken about us as quickly as we’d like, He has promised – ultimately – a far better place for you and me (John 14:1-3). A place of absolute belonging and unbreakable peace. In Christ, we’re already naturalized citizens of that bright and perfect kingdom.
There won’t be a single depressed soul in heaven. Not one.
There is a new world coming, where we will be free from every disability and every disease. Those who suffer from physical and emotional hindrances now will soar and leap and smile for God’s glory! It’s the City of God, and we’re almost there.
I hope you’ll join me in looking around. There’s pain in every palace, and in every pew. People need our encouragement and grace. People need Christ. Perhaps you are His chosen emissary today. Because of His great love for you and for those around you, you may be His intended hands and feet for this wintry moment.
And, if you’re the one who’s hurting, please let someone know. Give us the chance to be the body of Christ. Give us the chance to be, like our Savior, “full of grace and truth.”