What do you say when someone greets you with "How are you doing?" or "How have things been?" You probably go with the automatic "doing well" or "good" or perhaps even "great". Even as the words roll off your tongue you know them to be false. Of course, I hope they are honest answers but what about when the circumstances presently in your life are discouraging or painful. Those questions could be awkward because you want to erase the fake smile and say "terrible" but you know that would produce an even more awkward look on the greeting person's face. So what is an alterntive to fake optimism and raw pessimism?
Try answering as a gospel-person. We are not defined by circumstances anyway. There are always things at work for our good beyond the circumstances. For that matter circumstance may be good and you not be growing spiritually-- which is not good. Try responding honestly but in a way that adorns the gospel that has transformed you and given you a hope beyond the present circumstances.
"It has been a difficult season but God has been so faithful to encourage and sustain me."
"Circumstances have been challenging but the Lord never fails."
"It has been up and down but the Lord has been so gracious to grow me through it all."
"It has been rough but my hope is in the Lord."
Now even these responses could come across as phony if you don't really mean them. So first ask yourself some awkward questions- Are you looking to the Lord (in His Word and by prayer) during this difficult season? Are you continually repenting from trusting in the things of this world and instead believing in the Lord Jesus who never fails? Do you daily reflect on the Lord's grace in your life and how He is shaping you through the difficulties? Are you genuinely hoping in the Lord or is your focus only on the circumstances? We must be gospel people through and through and how we respond to difficult seasons of life will either reveal can display the gospel transforming power.