DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I know I shouldn’t get upset when people criticize me, but I just can’t help it. Even when I know they’re wrong, it still upsets me and sends me into an emotional tailspin. How can I learn to handle criticism? — Mrs. M.S.
DEAR MRS. M.S.: I doubt if anyone likes to be criticized, particularly when they know it isn’t deserved. (That’s one reason, incidentally, why we should be very careful about criticizing others.) The Bible condemns those who have “tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips” (Psalm 140:3).
But criticism is part of life, and the real question (as you say) is how to deal with it. Let me make two suggestions. First, ask God to help you become less sensitive to what others say. Some of what they say actually may not even be intended as criticism — but you take it as such.
Don’t focus, however, on what others may or may not think of you. Focus instead on what God thinks of you — and rejoice in it. After all, when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ we become God’s dearly loved children. Find your security and comfort in this great truth. The Bible wisely says, “Do not pay attention to every word people say” (Ecclesiastes 7:21).
Second, ask God to help you be an encourager. Criticism tears people down; encouragement builds them up. Learning to encourage others won’t only keep you from focusing on yourself, but it will help others. The Bible says, “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I know you often say that God loves us, but I’m not really feeling it. My girlfriend says I just need to take it on faith, but why should I? After all, maybe it’s not true. Besides that, I’m not sure it makes any difference. — S.L.
DEAR S.L.: If you knew — really knew — that God loved you, I guarantee that your life would never be the same! Not only would it give you hope for the future, but you’d discover why God put you here and how you can know His presence every day. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
But is it all a lie (as you suspect) — or is it true? The answer can be found in one word: Jesus. You may never have thought much about Him; you may even have been put off by things you didn’t like about Christians you’ve known. But I invite you to look at Jesus as He is found in the pages of the Gospels — and when you do, you’ll discover that He was more than a great teacher or religious leader. He was God in human flesh, who came from heaven to bring us back to God.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-877-2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.