This life is hard. We all need someone or something to lean on when times are tough. What’s a Christian to do?
All things happen for a reason, they say. Last night, I got a very unexpected email about hopelessness and depression, which was from someone who does not read this blog (that I know of), and I want to share my response since it is related to recent discussions.
My dearest, [name removed], I am sorry you are having it so rough. However, yes, I do know what you mean. I am having difficulties too, and I can relate even to a few of the same things you are dealing with.
Well, let’s see: [list of issues removed]
And, that’s just what is on my mind at the moment. I think you get the idea.
How do I deal with this? The very first thing is to pray. A lot. I know a lot of people will tell you that, but they stop there, don’t they? It really is not a complete answer.
I came across a saying today. “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil. It has no point.”
We need to pray in order to be reminded of numerous things:
1. First of all, it is not all about us. We are not the center of the universe. God created the universe for His pleasure, and He invites us along for the ride. However, if we do not put our trust in Him, we are not likely to enjoy it very much.
2. There is Someone greater than ourselves. When we are young, we tend to believe we are invincible. We act like nothing can hurt us. We have the rest of our lives to live. One day, we wake up and realize how fragile life really is. We begin to really understand that we are not powerful beings at all, but we are at the mercy of much greater forces than ourselves. Fortunately, one of those forces really does love us and want the best for us – not just now but forever.
3. In order to gain favor with this great Someone, we must put our faith in Him. He is all powerful, and He can see us through even death itself!
However, that really does not tell us what to pray for, does it?
To get to the root of it all, we need to realize that pain tells us something is wrong. A child learns that a hot stove can burn them because the pain tells them so. If a person has a broken leg, the pain will tell them to not put weight upon it. That keeps them from making it worse.
Emotional pain is not much different, really. It means something is wrong. We must come before God and humbly ask Him to show us what is wrong. We need doctors to diagnose our sicknesses because we cannot be objective enough and knowledgeable enough to do it ourselves. In fact, we must be humble enough to admit that the problem might be something we are causing. A bad attitude, selfishness, greed, etc., all can cause pain in ourselves and in others. However, we will never know unless we are humble enough to admit it.
Even if the pain is not our doing, though, what many people (from what I’ve seen) seem to leave out is to ask God what can we learn from it. A child may learn that they are in pain every time they put their hand on the hot stove, but if they do not learn how to tell when the stove is hot, then they miss out on the real lesson. They will either always burn themselves, or they will always avoid it (which makes it difficult to learn how to cook, doesn’t it?).
Let’s not forget thankfulness:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
~ Php 4:6 (NLT).
It is difficult to be depressed and thankful at the same time. Even in the worst of circumstances, stop and thank God for what is going right. Before eating, give thanks to God that you are fed with delicious food. Before going to bed at night, be thankful that you even have a bed, let alone a roof over your head.
Finally, really just lay out what your worries are to God. He is bigger than all of them! However, we should ask Him for the strength and the faith to see it through to the very end.
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
~ 1Pe 5:6-7 (NLT)
Notice how God will lift you up “at the right time”. We often are impatient and want everything taken care of right now.
Prayer is the first thing. Talking to someone who will listen is the next thing.
One thing I love about Sabbath services is the chance to bend someone else’s ear. Talking about your problems can lead to less anxiety about them. Maybe they even have a solution! If not, asking them to pray for you as well can be a source of comfort.
Of course, there are times when it is helpful to be able to call and talk to someone who cares and will pray for you as well.
Christians are commanded to build each other up, while the rest of the world tries to tear us (and everyone else) down.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.
~ 1Th 5:11 (HCSB)
Not only can they pray for you, but you can pray for them. This helps us combat selfishness, which is a very difficult thing to do. When you look at the world’s problems, they all one way or another can be traced back to selfishness. It is natural for people to be selfish, so we must actively do something to combat it.
When things are really bad, it helps to fast and meditate upon God’s goodness. What a loving God He is to create this world full of life everywhere! Look at the moon, and you see mostly dust and craters. Look at Mars, the same thing. No life. Here, though, we not only have life, but it is everywhere! Even in the depths of the ocean where nothing should be able to live, we find animal colonies that thrive in extreme conditions.
But, you know, this life is hard. This is not the kind of world that God intends to last forever. People suffer. People are in pain. However, it will not always be that way. Yet, He allows it all for a reason.
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
~ Ro 8:28 (HCSB)
People might argue about exactly how God does this, but the important this is that He does! He causes all things to work together for His will.
This circles back to faith, then. We have to believe that God is good, God is love, God wants the best for everyone, and God will bring it to pass one day. He is so loving and so kind that He will even give us faith if we ask for it!
Meditating on the here and now will only bring temporary relief, while meditating on what will be forever will bring forever relief.
Well, this was longer than I intended, and I hope it made sense. I hope it lifted you up some as well.