If you’re familiar with my personal story, you know I’ve had my share of tough times. Especially at Christmas. As mentioned in my book Finding Home, the first Christmas after my mom died, I was nine-years-old and living with a foster family. While thankful that I had a place to live, my siblings and I didn’t receive any Christmas presents. None. About all we could do is watch in silence while the children with whom we lived ripped open gift after gift.
Years later, as a sophomore in college, I was faced with the reality that I had no where to go during the Christmas holiday break. I had to apply for special permission to stay on the deserted campus. That Christmas I was alone in my dorm room–without heat. The college was a ghost town. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed snacking on food from the vending machines knowing full well that my friends were home with their families opening presents under Christmas trees trimmed with colorful lights and candy canes.
And yet, in spite of the Christmas seasons where I experienced incredible isolation and a loneliness so bleak it brought me to tears, I can say there was never a moment when I contemplated taking my life. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t filled with questions for God. On the contrary, I poured out my heart to Him. Streams of grief spilled out of my soul. You know what? I found through those moments of desperation that when we reach the end of ourselves, that’s usually where we’ll meet God.
To illustrate how God meets us in our distress, allow me to share with you a recent letter from a woman I’ll call Lisa, one of our listeners to the Focus on the Family broadcast. Lisa writes:
Just a few hours ago, I was ready to end my life. I felt that there was no hope, everything was a huge mess, the pain was too dark and deep, I’d messed up too many times. Yesterday I had cried out to God that I was walking away from my faith and didn’t want to follow Him anymore. The only way I could go on was for Him to show me something real, and He did.
This morning I got up, dropped my children off, came home and fell on the bed with a full bottle of pills in my hand–I thought for a brief moment that maybe killing myself was the answer. I had the radio on for “noise,” tuned to the Christian station I always listen to. Focus on the Family’s program was just starting; the guest was Carol Kent. Her message cut through my emotional fog and resonated with me, conveying exactly what I had been longing to hear.
This had to be from the Lord! After the show, Dr. Dobson invited any listener to call in if they had been blessed or touched by the program, so I did. I spoke to a kind man who listened attentively, prayed for me, and asked me to send you an e-mail so that you could follow up further.
After doing so I decided to check out Carol Kent’s Web site . . . and this is where the ‘goose bumps’ really come in: Carol is scheduled to speak at my home church! I can’t believe it: five hours ago I was going to take my own life, now I have hope and I’ll even get to meet the person whose recorded message came at just the right moment.
Thank you Jesus! Thank you Dr. Dobson! Thank you Focus on the Family, and thank you Carol Kent
If you find yourself wrestling this Christmas season with sadness from a recent death in the family, a divorce, the loss of a job, financial pressure, feelings of depression or suicide, or just plain old stress that feels like a volcano about to erupt, let me point you to Jesus. Jesus made you this promise: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” I can’t say how He will meet you. But as was the case with Lisa, Jesus showed up in ways she never imagined possible.
He can do the same for you. You might also consider investigating a special website we’ve designed to help you cope when you think maybe no one cares, when life feels like it’s spinning out of control. Go to: Troubledwith.com. This practical reference is filled with immediate help and offers long-term hope. And, keep in mind that you can always give us a call and speak with one of our trained Christian counselors during business hours. Call 1-866-914-HOPE.
We’re here for you.