Thursday, January 15, 2015

Strength in Sadness, and in Struggle

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

I’ve Been There
Now well over twenty-five years ago, I sat on the edge of my sofa in the living room of our little duplex at 910 Navarro Lane, College Station, Texas with tears streaming down my face.  It was Christmas time and as I looked upon our little Christmas tree I felt so empty inside.  I felt alone in my despair and hopeless in my situation.  I just wanted to be home…with my family – my mother and dad, my sisters and brother.  I felt so removed from them.  So far away. 

I was young, married to a troubled woman, and as a very new father, learning what it meant to be a daddy to an infant daughter.  Times were hard.  We were living paycheck to paycheck.  I was working what felt like a dead-end job for an ungrateful and thankless boss whose only interest was his own profit; which he would make no matter the cost to his employees or customers. 

To make matters worse, I had moved to that city because I believed very much that the Lord had called me to go there.  I still believe that was the case.  His purpose for me there was clear.  I had much to learn and much to experience there, but in that moment, the cost seemed to be too great.  I just wanted to be home.  I felt no joy in it being Christmas time.  I didn’t want to sing “Joy to the World” or “Silent Night.”  I wanted the world to go away and leave me alone.  I already felt so alone.  I felt despair, depression, and anger. 

Maybe you are there.  Your circumstance may not exactly resemble mine from those days, but perhaps you know all too well what it means to feel alone, despair, depression, anger.
Coming out of Christmas can bring complicating factors of its own.  It’s now January and the bills from Christmas may be piling up.  Perhaps the holiday spirit of Christmas was a good distraction from the battles you fight, but now the holidays are over and you feel exposed to the elements of debt, struggling relationships, emotional storms or other complex situations.

I draw strength from the reality that Jesus lived.  Hear my words…Just as you and I are living, Jesus lived.  He had to deal with people…and no doubt, some of them must have been difficult.  We don’t get many details about it, but Jesus had a job.  He was a carpenter who dealt with real life day to day situations.  He had emotions just like you and me.  Isaiah 53:3 speaks prophetically of Jesus saying: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” I draw hope from a Lord who was acquainted with what it means to live, hurt, suffer, and cry…just like me.  I find help in knowing that the same loving God who carried Jesus through his inexpressibly difficult times loves you and me the same, and will carry us as well. It may not seem like it right now, but you are going to endure this storm, because an almighty and compassionate God is on your side!
Consider the following encouragement from the scriptures:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
I’ve heard my brother in ministry, Donnie O’Fallon quote Jeremiah 29:11, which we just read above, many times: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  I am always encouraged by those words.  Our heavenly Father has plans for you and me!  He is going to carry us through whatever we may be going through. 
Your pastoral staff is here for you whenever you need us.  Perhaps to help you navigate a difficult emotional, financial, or relational storm, or to pray with you and offer a sounding board for your struggles or any questions you have. We very much want you to know that you are NOT alone in your struggle and that you have a faith family with you on this journey.  Please, give us a call and let us be your resource in a time of need.  In the meantime, let me pray for you:

Almighty God, you are acquainted with our struggles and our sorrows. When we weep, you are aware of our many tears and are not unmoved by them.  I pray for my friend in this the hour that he or she reads this, that you will move quickly to their side and grant them comfort.  Bring peace and hope, and comfort to their heart and mind.  And give them strength and help through your Holy Spirit, your comforter/counselor to carry him or her through this difficult time.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Devotional Archive