Relaxing

I’m getting ready to head to Walmart for another 4-11 shift. It’s not always fun but it isn’t too terribly difficult. I haven’t done much today other than take Robin to work and take Jamie to her therapist. After that I decided to sit down and just relax. I come up the office on Mondays because it is quiet and I can just sit, listen to music, read, or write. Sometimes I just sit. Today has been one of those days.

I really don’t have much to say today. I don’t want to miss a day but sometimes it is a struggle to come up with something meaningful to share. That’s why I share songs and Bible verses. They give you an idea as to what is on my mind. Honestly, I have tried to keep my mind free today. It’s hard for me but I came pretty close. I haven’t listened to my sermon from yesterday. I’ll do that tomorrow before I put it online.

I need to leave early today so I can stop and get gas. It can probably wait until tonight but I won’t feel like stopping at Sheetz at 11:00. I have a feeling I’m going to be ready to get home and go to bed.

That’s all I’ve got. I guess I’ll share a song. That’s what I do on days like this.

This one may seem a bit out of left field but enjoy it anyway.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

 

Advertisements

Nobody Can Save Me

What a catchy song. What sadness in the lyrics. I don’t know that I would have ever heard this song if Chester Bennington hadn’t killed himself. Now I can’t stop listening to it. How many people feel this way and aren’t able to express it or seek out help?

Too many.

One line screams at me:

Stare into this illusion
For answers yet to come
I chose a false solution
But nobody proved me wrong

Please know that you do have another solution. If you know someone struggling. Reach out and let them know that there is another answer.

Been searching somewhere out there
For what’s been missing right here

Let’s do everything we can to help them find it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-272-8255

I do not know why this Linkin Park album is having such an effect on me. I wasn’t a real fan. I didn’t follow the band. The “shock” of Chester Bennington’s death has worn off. The album isn’t even a style of music I normally listen to. Apparently the music critics think it is unoriginal and extremely derivative. Some even feel it was a deliberate money grab by the band. I don’t know enough about them to make an educated guess. I do know that it sounds NOTHING like what I expect when I think Linkin Park. Admittedly, I only know the first album.

Why can’t I stop listening to it? I have had listening marathons in the past when someone I liked died. Most of you probably recall the Chris Cornell one just a couple of months ago. It lasted a day or two and then things went back to normal. I haven’t taken One More Light out of the CD player in my car. I am even writing about it. Why has this touched me so deeply?

I honestly can’t explain it.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

A Time For Everything

 

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Psalm 77

I came across a group today that I had never heard of. They’re called Sons Of Korah and they record their own versions of different psalms. Here is the text of Psalm 77 from the New Living Translation and then Sons Of Korah’s take on it.

I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

13 O God, your ways are holy.
    Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
    You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude

16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God,
    its waters looked and trembled!
    The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
    the thunder rumbled in the sky.
    Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
    the lightning lit up the world!
    The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
    with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

 

 

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Jeremiah 17:5-10

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NLT)

 

This passage (along with Psalm 1) reminds me that worldy wisdom (even from my own mind and heart) cannot be fully trusted. We often think we have it all figured out and the truth is that we are deceived and don’t even know it. As I look back on my life I can see that I have been out in the barren wilderness more than I care to admit. Many times I was heading towards what I thought was an oasis only discover it was a mirage. I was chasing things that I thought would nourish me only to find myself deeper in the desert and further from the things I really needed.

The good thing is that God knows our thoughts and He will only lead us to things that bring life. He knows the things that are going to derail us and send is off into the wasteland. He gives us the way to escape if we will just listen and obey. As I get older I realize just how better off I am when I am fully trusting God and I’m following the lead of His Holy Spirit. The world (and my own mind) may tell me I’m missing out on things but I know that in the end I will be better off. I have to keep reminding myself of that and keep praying for the strength to persevere. May you do the same.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Tree-by-a-Stream

Names Of God: Yahweh Yireh

 

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Genesis 22:3-14 (NLT)

 

I confess that this encounter with God has always made me a bit uneasy. What do you think Abraham thought of a God who would ask what He asked? Scripture doesn’t record Abraham’s thoughts here but he had to have been wondering what God’s purpose was. After all, this was the son of promise. Whatever thoughts went through his mind, Abraham obeyed. Once again, what went through his mind when Isaac asked about the sheep? Notice that Abraham assured his son that God would provide. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham had already figured out that God would keep the promise regardless of what happened.

17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT)

 

I am thankful that God hasn’t tested my faith the way He tested Abraham’s. I’m not so sure I would pass. I have had times in my life where I questioned God and I wondered what was taking Him so long. The past four months would definitely fall into that category. There were days when I honestly asked God what He was up to. I just couldn’t see how things were going to work out it in the end. He stood there with us though. I wrote a post not too long ago where I said that I had to get to a point where I could accept the outcome Even If it wasn’t what I was praying for. It just so happens that this time God did answer our prayers the way we hoped. He provided. Here’s the thing though, I believe that He would have provided if the outcome had been something different. I really do.

I don’t know what you may going through right now. I know several families here that are struggling through different things. People are broken. People are hurting. People may looking up asking, “Where are you God?” I pray that we love them and reach out to them and minster to them so that they are able to see that we do serve Yahweh Yireh…a God who does provide.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Heavy

I have been listening to the most recent Linkin Park quite a bit. I admit that may seem a bit morbid and I agree. The truth is that I probably wouldn’t have cared about it at all if Chester Bennington hadn’t killed himself. I was aware that they had a new album and that it had caused a bit of  contention among the band’s fans but I have never really been a fan. I really liked their first album seventeen years ago and that was my involvement with the band. I did listen to the handful of songs Bennington recorded with Stone Temple Pilots when he replaced Scott Weiland (who later died from an overdose) but it wasn’t something that kept my attention.

I have already written about the overall vibe I get from this new Linkin Park album and how it seems as if Bennington was trying to tell us all something. After writing that I learned that he only co-wrote two of the songs. The song I’m talking about today was the first single released (back in February) and is a very catchy pop song featuring Kiiara on co-vocals. I had never heard of her but apparently she had a hit called Gold a year or so ago. If I had heard this song on the radio I would have never known it was Linkin Park. I only knew them as a fairly heavy band. This song is straight up pop. It’s not great pop but it is just as good as anything else on the radio. I do like the vocal hook in the chorus and it is those lyrics that really jump out at me.

I’m holding on. Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on. There’s so much more than I can carry.
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down.
If I just let go I’d be set free.
Holding on. Why is everything so heavy?

The song is credited to five different songwriters. Bennington said that the song was born out of conversations he and his bandmates had about all the struggles in his life. HERE is an article released the day after Bennington’s suicide that shares some of the singer’s comments on the song. Bennington had also been quoted as saying that the opening line was how he felt 24 hours a day.

I don’t like my mind right now.

That reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 7:14-25 (NLT)

14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

The thing that so many people never come to realize is that we can be free from that way of thinking. Paul gives us the answer. It’s only through Jesus that we can be transformed and have our minds renewed. I do want to stress something though, even when we become Christians and have God’s Spirit within us, we still struggle. There is still pain and doubt and confusion sometimes. The only difference is that we have God with us when we go through it. Too many times we make others feel embarrassed or ashamed that they have anxiety and depression in their lives. We can make them feel unloved or unsaved. We need to stop. We need to let them know that we are there with them. We need to let them know that God is there with them. Even in the darkest valleys.

While I have never sunk to the depths that would make me want to end my life, I can still relate to those sorts of feelings. I think that all of us can on some level. The more I read Scripture and the more I pray; the more I realize that being broken is a universal thing. We are all broken in our own way. For whatever reason, some of us are better equipped to deal with it than others. Truthfully, some of us are more broken than others. Some of us do not have the resources to make it through. King David often wrote about those sorts of feelings. He even resorted to asking God why He had abandoned him in his time of need. However, he still recognized God’s goodness and praised Him no matter what.

Out of all the songs on the album, Heavy probably speaks to me the loudest. I honestly believe it sounds like something the Apostle Paul could have written. The title track One More Light is probably the second most powerful song and I may write about that one next. I think the reason this particular song resonates with me is because I definitely see myself in the lyrics. I could have written them. Perhaps you could have written them too. Sometimes things are out of our control but if I’m honest I have to confess that I have caused a lot of the pain and confusion in my life. Like the chorus says, if I would just let go of the things that weigh me down I would be so much better.

I linked the song at the bottom. I am not asking you to listen to it but I wanted it there if you are interested. The album version has a profanity in the second verse. I know that is an issue for a lot of people. I will let you know that if you do decide to listen I have linked the “clean” version that doesn’t have that word in it. I do believe that you can get the gist of this post without listening to the song. I quoted the lyrics that spoke to me so you don’t have to hear them to understand where I’m coming from.

Once again, if you are struggling with depression and feel like you have no one to talk to, reach out to me. Reach out to someone. There are people who care. There are people who want to make your burden a little less heavy. Jesus said that all who are weary can come to him and find rest. I know I am taking it out of the original context but I think it still applies in the this situation. You don’t have to carry it alone. It doesn’t have to be so heavy.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-272-8255

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

God’s Praying For Me

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)

 

This section from Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome keeps coming back to me. It was in my lesson at New Beginnings on Friday and was in my sermon yesterday. I am encouraged by the fact that God is praying for me. He knows better than I do so I know His prayers are going to be in my best interest. I admit that it sounds funny to say that God is praying for me but isn’t that what Paul is saying here? When things are so down that I can’t pray…God (through His Holy Spirit) steps in and takes over. He prays for me. That is awesome. That should keep me from doubting Him. He takes over when I can’t.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

One More Light

I hadn’t seriously thought about Linkin Park in years. I remember when Hybrid Theory (their debut) came out in 2000. I listened to that one a lot when it came out and have listened to it many times in the seventeen years since its release. I liked a couple of songs from Meteora (their 2003 album) but I didn’t keep up with their career. Every now and then I would hear a new song and think, “Oh they’re still around?” Once again, I didn’t really follow them and I didn’t call myself a fan. I thought they had one really good album that I really liked a long time ago.

I knew they released a new album earlier this year and I vaguely remember some controversy when Chester Bennington ranted about fans who criticized the “poppy” direction of the band’s most recent work and suggested that they had somehow sold out. I didn’t pay it much mind and didn’t think of Linkin Park again until May when Chris Cornell from Soundgarden committed suicide and Chester Bennington spoke of how much it affected him. I chalked it up to one musician mourning the loss of one of his brothers. That all changed three days ago when news broke that Bennington had taken his own life on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

I wrote about how I listened to Hybrid Theory that night and the lyrics just seemed to jump out at me. It was if he had been trying to say something all those years ago. That made me curious. What did the new album have to say? I listened to the lead off track (Nobody Can Save Me) and I had to stop to collect myself. I am a music person. I consider myself a musician. Music speaks to me in powerful ways. The first thing that struck me when I listened was how catchy the song is. It is pop and pretty good pop at that. However, the lyrics seemed to reach out of the speakers and shake me.

I’m dancing with my demons
I’m hanging off the edge
Storm clouds gather beneath me
Waves break above my head
At first hallucination
I wanna fall wide awake now
You tell me it’s alright
Tell me I’m forgiven
Tonight
But nobody can save me now
I’m holding up a light
Chasing up the darkness inside
‘Cause nobody can save me

I wondered where the rest of the album would go so I continued to listen. The second track (Good Goodbye) began and it seemed as if the ghost of Bennington was wafting from the stereo.

So say goodbye and hit the road
Pack it up and disappear
You better have some place to go
‘Cause you can’t come back around here
Good goodbye
Don’t you come back no more

In case you’re wondering, the music does not sound like the Linkin Park which became a hit-making juggernaut nearly twenty years ago. It is modern pop with a decidedly hip-hop flavor on many tracks. I understand why many fans were disappointed but I found myself really liking it. It is an incredible catchy album. The lyrics are what make the album so powerful. I reiterate that I am not a mental health professional and it is easy to look back at the words knowing what we know now but look at them.

Talking To Myself

Tell me what I’ve gotta do
There’s no getting through to you
The lights are on but nobody’s home (nobody’s home)
You say I can’t understand
But you’re not giving me a chance
When you leave me, where do you go? (Where do you go?)

 

Battle Symphony

I hear my battle symphony
All the world in front of me
If my armor breaks
I’ll fuse it back together
Battle symphony
Please just don’t give up on me
And my eyes are wide awake

 

Invisible

I was not mad at you
I was not trying to tear you down
The words that I could’ve used
I was too scared to say out loud
If I cannot break your fall
I’ll pick you up right off the ground
If you felt invisible, I won’t let you feel that now

 

Heavy

I’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Holding on
Why is everything so heavy?

 

Sorry For Now

And I’ll be sorry for now
That I couldn’t be around
Sometimes things refuse to go the way we planned
Oh I’ll be sorry for now
That I couldn’t be around
There will be a day that you will understand
You will understand

 

Halfway Right

All you said to do was slow down
I remember, now I remember
All you said to do was slow down
But I was already gone

 

I realize it is easy to sit here and cherry pick select lyrics and try to argue that Bennington was trying to tell us something through the songs. I don’t want to be presumptuous but I have seen/heard/read enough of his friends say that exact thing over the past few days that I can’t help but think the same thing. I have listened to the album several times now and every time just reinforces the idea that Bennington was reaching out in the only way he knew how. The title track (One More Light) is the one that really grips me. It is one of the few songs in recent memory that literally brought tears to me eyes.

I found a clip of them playing it live in memory of Chris Cornell and that performance haunts me. First of all, it is an absolutely beautiful song that laments the loss of a loved one. Second, Bennington was obviously emotional as he performed it that evening. Watching it now is poignant. It is heart-breaking. The opening line literally gives me chills.

Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored?
Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?
We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep
There are things that we can have, but can’t keep.

 

I don’t know what else to say. This isn’t an attempt to canonize another musician who died much too young. As I’ve stated, I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan but I cannot help the things I’m feeling now. Bennington is in the news because he was famous. The truth is that people die alone and hurting every single day and many of them die alone and unnoticed. We need to pray for those who hurt. We need to be aware of those around us. We need to look for the signs when they are there and we need to take them seriously.

I have shared this before and I will continue to share it. If you are struggling and don’t think you can hold on, reach out to someone. There are people out there who care and who will listen to you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-272-8255

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

 

Meaningless

These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NLT)

 

I watched a little spider weaving its web as I stood at the door in the garden center Thursday night. She (it is generally accepted that most spiders seen in webs are female) worked furiously for the hour I stood there. By the time I left there was a really extravagant web that ran in between two of the steel shelves. I was honestly impressed. When I went out to the garden center last night I immediately went over to where the little spider had been the night before. I was somewhat disheartened (but not surprised) to see no evidence of the web or of her (once again assuming she is indeed a she). She did reappear later that evening but didn’t seem to be working on a new web.

I don’t know anything about spiders other than they both impress me and creep me out. I assume they aren’t highly intelligent regardless of what Charlotte’s Web may lead us to think. However, I did wonder if the little lady was smart enough to know not to rebuild her web in that spot. It would just be torn down again no matter how hard she worked or how intricate it was. To sum it up, building a web there would be meaningless. That made me think of the passage I shared. That passage also came to mind earlier in the day when I heard the news that Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington had committed suicide. It may or may not be significant that he took his own life on what would have been his good friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday. If you recall, Cornell committed suicide May 18 of this year. Both men were respected musicians in bands that sold a lot of records. On the surface they looked like they had it all.

Against my better judgement I popped Linkin Park’s 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory into the CD player as I drove to work Thursday afternoon. As I listened to an album I have heard thousands of times I was struck by how hopeless some of the lyrics sounded in light of the day’s events.

Consider:

I find the answers aren’t so clear
Wish I could find a way to disappear
All these thoughts they make no sense
I find bliss in ignorance
Nothing seems to go away
Over and over again
Just like before
Everything you say to me
Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I’m about to break
I need a little room to breathe
‘Cause I’m one step closer to the edge
And I’m about to break
One Step Closer
Or
I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
In The End

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a mental health professional so I can’t honestly speak to some things. As a songwriter I can’t even definitively say that those lyrics can be taken as an indication of suicidal thoughts. I have written some pretty dark and angst-filled stuff myself. Even King David got the blues sometimes and wrote about it. Try out Psalm 42 if you don’t believe me. Even the beloved Psalm 23 talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. The truth is that we all get down sometimes. We all have moments when we think this life is meaningless. King Solomon came right out and said it in Ecclesiastes when he wrote, “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless.” Bennington suggested the same thing when he howled, “In the end it doesn’t even matter.” Perhaps my little arachnid friend thought the same thing when someone tore her web down.

Even those of us who put our faith and trust in Jesus have those moments. Let’s not pretend that anxiety and depression only afflict the faithless and the weak. I have witnessed first hand people who usually had much stronger faith than me go through dark times. I have watched people who historically encouraged me struggle and wonder how they were going to go on. It wasn’t that they no longer believed or trusted. It wasn’t that they stopped following God. They just had a hard time taking His hand and walking through that dark valley with Him. Sometimes we all do.

My heart genuinely breaks for those who think they have no other option. I don’t judge them for that. I can’t know the depth of their pain. Only God can. I do believe that God is there with them even if they can’t see it or feel it. I believe Jesus understands that pain and that anxiety and that level of hurt. If you don’t think he does ponder what he prayed in the garden right before he was arrested.

41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Luke 22:41-44 (NLT)

 

36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Matthew 26:36-39 (NLT)

 

I really do believe we have a loving and merciful God and that He knows and understands what people are going through. He allowed these passages to be included in the Bible and I think He did that for our benefit, so we can know that He understands. I also believe that we can have hope. I believe the same Jesus who agonized in the garden later died on the cross, was buried, and then raised again. Because he did that, I can one day experience eternal life with him. That is where I find my hope and I’ll be honest, sometimes that’s the only thing that carries me through. There’s a song we’ve sung in church for as long as I can remember. The chorus goes like this.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

 

I am not ignorant or naive. I know that some people experience pain that cannot be soothed by the lyrics of a song or even by these words that I type. I do believe that pain can be soothed by the healing “touch” of Jesus. Unfortunately so many people lose hope and are swept away without ever feeling it. Some are wounded so badly that there just doesn’t seem to be any hope at all. We need to pray. We need to love people. We need to understand. We need to remove the stigma from anxiety and depression. We need to reach out and be the touch of Jesus for those who are hurting. We need to show them that this life doesn’t have to be meaningless.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

spider