I love all things Christmas. I enjoy the songs, the lights, and the food (especially the food). For me, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
However, if you Google “depression at Christmas,” be prepared to find some sobering statistics.
For many people, Christmas is anything but merry.
Increased financial stress, added events that consume any margin in our lives, and exacerbated family tensions make this season difficult for many. Then, of course, there’s Covid and the latest mutation that continues to create fear for some.
The tragic irony is that we celebrate the Prince of Peace’s coming at Christmas, while so many of us are not so peaceful.
I woke up at 4:05 with a heavy heart.
Outside of a miracle, I have a dear friend who will never spend another Christmas with her husband and family. Another friend had to say goodbye to her father, who will pass away soon. Some of my friends and family members are fighting cancer, going through a divorce, or trying to figure out how to pay the rent in January after losing a job. I just got a text from a mom who admitted a child to the hospital yesterday.
The reality of their struggles at a time of merriment is challenging.
I sat in my chair in a room illuminated only by the Christmas lights on our tree and prayed, “Jesus, why is life so hard at times? Why now? What can I say to help my friends?”
What can I say to a husband losing the love of his life?
What can I say to a daughter losing her daddy?
What can I say to a family member battling the evils of cancer?
What can I say to a mom who is afraid for her child struggling in the hospital?
What can I say to my friend who is alone, and all she wants for Christmas is a godly husband?
I know that lovely, upbeat, well-intended Christian platitudes might be true, but they’re not always what is best needed in a crisis.
Of course, I could talk about perspective and eternity and the importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus. Good words. Truth. All biblical realities.
But it dawned on me long before the dawn: Maybe the best thing—the needed thing—is simply to be.
- Be available.
- Be understanding.
- Be one who mourns with those who mourn and weeps with those who weep.
- Be more like Jesus, who knew this life would be hard, and so He told us, “I am with you. Always present. Always nearby. No matter what you face, you will never be abandoned and never forsaken.”
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when in a dark place is He truly is Emmanuel.
And maybe the best thing we can do for those who need us when their life isn’t so merry is to simply stay close.
What we do is often far more important than anything we might say.
So, just be present.
“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Matthew 28:20 (KJV)