Brothers and sisters,
I hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day yesterday as we remembered the sacrifice of those who have died in defending our country and securing our political freedom.
As we begin a new week, remember that the way of Jesus is the way of grace and forgiveness. No one deserves forgiveness. But Jesus bought it for us with His blood and we are forgiven in and through Him. Following Him is a life of joy as I tried to emphasize in Sunday’s message.
As I thought about my sermon Sunday, a phrase came to my mind that I heard in my younger days. Did I “overcook my grits?” In emphasizing joy, did I make it seem like there would never be times of distress and despair and, yes, even depression in the Christian life? If that seemed to be the case as you listened, I want to correct the idea that the Christian life never has those kind of times.
In Scripture, in Christian experience and even in my own life, there are times of despair and depression. Sometimes they are extremely intense and dark. The Psalmist asked himself the question, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” There are very difficult and despairing times in all of our lives. It is not healthy to deny the pain of those times. It is not wrong to go through such times. If this is such a time of your life when you just can’t seem to find joy, I hope you will remember a couple things. First of all, God is present to help you. Even though you may feel like He is far away, He is not. He is close to His children even when they might not sense His presence. He is your “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” Don’t give into the despair but remember He cares and He loves you. When the Psalmist asked himself, “Why are you so downcast, O my soul?”, he answers his own question by saying, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Despair won’t last forever. God wants to bring you through it. Secondly, remember to reach out to your brothers and sisters so you don’t have to face the despair alone. Maybe they have gone through something similar and can share with you how God helped them. Maybe they can just weep with you and pray with you. Don’t let the enemy of your soul isolate you. God’s Holy Spirit and His people are there to help.
I am not seeking to give simplistic answers to what may be a very difficult struggle you are dealing with today. This is not an exhaustive list of things you might need to do if this is you, but just a couple of ideas. I am sure that none of us needs to face despair alone.
Have a great week!
Love being your pastor,