Sometimes, usually, when society expects you to be especially happy, like right now during the holidays, you are less happy than ever. Seeing others’ happiness just makes you feel even more inadequate and highlights just how unhappy you are.
We are bombarded with images of the perfect Christmas everywhere we turn. From Hallmark movies and festive commercials to cars lining our street with celebratory party-goers, everyone seems to have someone. While they are baking cookies and building gingerbread houses, maybe you are sitting alone, longing for family and friends.
I’m inherently happy the vast majority of the time, but right now, not so much. I typically exude Christmas cheer, but this year I’m struggling. A string of events has brought out my Bah Humbug, and as much as I hate feeling this way, I fear I’m stuck in this mode. I fear that the more I try to fight it, the harder it will hold on.
Some of you feel the same way. You have health issues or relationship problems or you’re terribly lonely. Some of you have lost your jobs and are at a crossroads in life, desperate to know what is next without a single clue as to what that might be. Some of you feel hopeless like your current situation will never improve and you are downright tired of treading water, trying to hold your head up, trying to keep on breathing.
Of course, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well. It’s at times like these when nothing makes sense and you’re struggling to “will” your way out of your negativity or cynicism, that gratitude is very, very difficult. I suggested in my last to open prayer with gratitude, versus asking, as a way to remind yourself of all that God has blessed you with. But what if you’re grappling with naming even one thing, calling up even one source of gratitude?
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
I know this verse uses the word “temptation,” and I’d like to focus on that for a minute. I don’t think God necessarily means temptation the way we think about it, as in the temptation to eat dessert or the temptation to have an affair, or the temptation to lie rather than facing the music. I think he’s referring to the temptation to wallow. To get lost in your sorrows and everything that is wrong in your life. To focus on negativity and hopelessness. He wants us to remember at all times that the one thing we will always have – one of the greatest gifts He’s ever given us – is hope. Whatever we are dealing with now will pass, and He will give us the tools and resources to endure it in the meantime.
This too shall pass. The loneliness, the questioning, the frustration, and the worry. Maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, you will feel better. Things will seem a little brighter, and you’ll be glad you hung on.
So when you can’t find anything else for which to be grateful, be grateful for the hope given to us by God.