I find it sad that in a time when so many are full of joy, the pain of the lonely is increased. In more than fifty years of seeking to comfort the wounded, I have become acutely aware of the increase in depression and grief during the holidays. There is just something about seeing others enjoying themselves that makes those in depression feel even worse.

The situation reminds me of a sleigh full of Christmas carolers passing a funeral procession. Neither group can feel what the other is feeling, but out of respect the carolers are silent as they pass by and the grieving long for the joy of the carolers. There is nothing wrong with the respectful attitude of the carolers, but as they continue on, must they now sing dirges rather than carols? To lose the sweet songs of the season only deepens the sorrow, prolongs the grief, and deepens the darkness of those depressed.

Over and over, I have watched this darkness bring down the joy of those who are near to it — only making those trapped in the darkness feel worse. Our joy may not be shared by another, but is it necessary to forgo the joy welling up within our hearts because someone else does not feel it? Can we not have our joy without feeling guilty that others do not feel the same? The command to "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15) opens the path for sharing in varied feelings without adopting them as extended patterns of our own lives.

Should we be sensitive to the sorrowful? Of course!

Should we encourage and love those who are downcast and despondent? Absolutely!

On the other hand ...

Should we let go of our friends who are struggling with their own brand of despair? Absolutely not!

Should we let go of our joy in Jesus, family, and the season? Absolutely not!

Oh if everyone could find comfort and joy as one who is covered by the "shadow of the Almighty." No one had more reason to be dragged down than the Sweet Singer of Songs, King David, yet he constantly found his way out of the pit (Psalms 40:2) and into the joy of the LORD. He knew the secret: it was in his relationship of trust in the loving kindness of his precious Father. Listen to these deep truths found in the 91st Psalm.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD,

"My refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust!"

For it is He who delivers you ... (Psalm 91:1-3).

Oh that everyone could find this comfort!
David adds to this the verse which has comforted me in my darkest nights.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:5).

Oh that everyone could find the comfort of which David speaks! This love is there for you in the loving presence of our gracious LORD.

To the joyous, you are called to be sensitive to those who cannot find their joy, but you are not called to surrender your joy. It was given to you by the Son, who "was anointed with the oil of gladness above that of his fellows" (Hebrews 1:9). He entered our world as one of us and he paid a great price to bring us this precious gift. Don't let go of the struggling during this time, but at the same time, don't let go of your joy, either.

Don't let go!