“Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.” ~ Psalm16:1
Have you ever felt that your circumstances are more than you can bear? About 10 years ago I experienced what I can only describe as a dark night of the soul. At the time, Becky and I were working at a home for troubled teens, I was the youth pastor of a swiftly growing youth ministry in a swiftly growing church, I was working a part-time job in a medical equipment warehouse, and I was ﬁnishing my undergrad. I was younger, which made lack of sleep a bit easier to manage. Financially, we were struggling, but God was faithfully providing everything we needed to get by.
In 2009 we miscarried our ﬁrst pregnancy. That loss profoundly aﬀected my ability to function for some period of time. To my own detriment, my personal walk with Christ began to deteriorate. The busyness of life, ministry, and work had begun to take its toll, and I began to ﬁnd rest and fulﬁllment in other things. When coupled with loss, these brought on depression and anxiety like I’ve never seen before.
It was in 2011 that I hit rock bottom. I remember every day feeling like I was under the weight of a giant rock. I wanted to stay in bed, I had no motivation, and in the driver’s seat of my emotional state was a deep, resonating sadness. I had our elders pray over me, my pastor pray with me, and many friends that walked with me through the storm. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my church family.
In the midst of the darkness, I knew what I had to do, yet it seemed so hard to do. I heard all of the Christian platitudes like, “Trust in God” or “Have faith”, yet I wasn’t sure what that meant in a practical sense. After talking with friends and loved ones, I realized that what I needed was to ﬁnd my worth and value in the Lord. I needed to trust Him by showing Him His worth and value to me. Let me share with you what that should look like in the life of the believer.
Practical faith or trust begins with believing the Word of God. To simplify, that means reading the Word, believing the Word, and living life in light of the Word. A skydiver jumps out of a plane believing that the parachute will deploy and allow him or her to safely land on the ground. In the same way, we should read the promises of God and believe that He is taking care of us. The only way this works is if we are IN THE WORD. You’ve got to read the Word to know it, and you have to know the Word to believe it.
Second, we have to go to the Lord in prayer, casting all of our anxieties on Him. A lacking prayer life reﬂects a lacking faith. By not going to the Lord with your needs, you are communicating to yourself and to Lord that He is not enough to bear your burdens. Jesus Christ & His Holy Spirit are intercessors on our behalf constantly (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26-27). If you profess faith in Christ, then make a habit of praying to Him in faith that He will hear and will respond.
Lastly, practical faith shares hope with others. In the last 10 years, my family has experienced some hard times. We’ve lost family to suicide, lost friends to disease, had major surgeries and broken bones, and moved across the country to serve the Lord and His church. Every one of these situations, though hard to handle in the moment, were preparing us for something better and something good. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul shares this incredible truth, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our aﬄiction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any aﬄiction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God doesn’t waste anything, and what you are going through now is meant to help you comfort someone else in the future who is going through the same thing that you’ve been through.
I want to encourage you with this truth. It may be hard to know what God is doing in the midst of sorrow. There is joy in the morning for those in Christ. If you are deep in sorrow, know that you’re not alone. Know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also know that the light is Jesus Christ, and He is reaching out to you through the Bible. He has a lot to say to your sorrow, and if you place your faith in Him, He will turn your sorrow into dancing, your weeping to rejoicing, and your sadness to victory.
Be Encouraged <><
“You make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence there is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
~ Psalm 16:11