Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy to the World: Right!

Written by Kerry Patton, Pastoral Care Ministry
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:8-11

“…Good news of great joy…Practically by design, Christmas is intended to be a time of joyful expectation.  But real life happens, and sometimes Christmas can be a time of emotional darkness, painful reflection, loneliness and sadness.  Financial stresses, relationship difficulties, health problems, and other factors can cause the season to turn on us and transform “the most wonderful time of the year” into an emotional adversary.  Perhaps you can identify with these words. 
In Psalm 22, one of the clearest scriptural portraits of human suffering and emotional darkness is painted by David.  In Matthew 27:46, when Jesus was suffering upon Calvary’s cross, at one point he cried out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – quoting a portion of that very Psalm.
Consider the following words from this same passage of Psalm 22: Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?  O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent…” and later: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
If you are one such person who really struggles during the holidays, these passages may resonate with you.  If so, what insight and assistance can you find to help in coping with very difficult times?  What does faith have to say when you are battling depression?
Psalm 22 - that passage that was on the mind of Jesus during his darkest hours of suffering, is not only a pronouncement of suffering, but also a hymn of praise.  In the midst of unspeakable suffering, Psalm 22 helped Jesus cast himself upon and hold strong to the unfailing presence of his Father.  The text reads in verses 4-5: In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.  They cried to you and were saved.  They trusted and were not disappointed.
A powerful help for when you are depressed is the knowledge that you are not alone in your suffering.  Many of us struggle with depression…particularly during the holidays.  But even more so, we are never alone in our suffering.  Our God is with us.  We trust in the Lord Jesus, and cry out to him. In doing so, we give voice to our pain and darkness, and we are reminded that we have not been abandoned in our place of pain.  Our Heavenly Father is by our side and he will not leave us alone.  His love for us is immeasurable and unfailing, and in our weakness, we will be made strong through the storm.  By his grace and loving kindness, you are going to make it!

Scripture to Claim: 

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55:22

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