Did Jesus come to make people miserable? I ask this because our neighbor is very devout and active in her church and all that, but she doesn't seem like a very happy person. No matter what we talk about, she always looks on the gloomy side. — L.D.
No, Jesus didn't come to make people miserable! A sad, gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, because Jesus came to give us hope and joy and new life. Jesus promised, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).
Does this mean we're supposed to ignore all the suffering and sin in the world around us, and act as if everything is all right? No, not at all -- nor did Jesus. He wept over the sins of the people of His day, and He wept too at the grave of His friend Lazarus (see Luke 13:34; John 11:35). In fact, the Bible called Him "a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3). One of the Bible's most comforting truths is that when we suffer, Jesus knows what we're going through, and He cares.
But by His death and resurrection Jesus overcame evil and sin and death -- and because of that, we don't need to be bowed down with sorrow and hopelessness. Our circumstances may be difficult, but when we know Christ, we can learn to live above them. Jesus' promise is true: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
May your neighbor learn to focus on Jesus, and not just the sorrows of this world. And may you open your heart and life to Him as well, so you, too, may experience the joy of His presence every day.