Jesus Weeps

011-lumo-lazarus2In my two previous blogs, I discussed how the church as a whole and the family unit specifically deal with those struggling with depression. Today I want to talk about how Jesus deals with our depression.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus consistently showed compassion to those around him. He showed compassion when he fed the multitudes who traveled many miles to see him. He was compassionate to the leper and healed him not only with words, but with a personal touch. He had compassion for the Widow of Nain when he raised her only son from the dead.

This Jesus, the very image of the living God, expressed true emotion. He was not aloof or cold. He felt deeply and expressed those feelings openly.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35)

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it is one of the most powerful because it shows us that Jesus feels our pain. He’s not just some puppeteer pulling the strings in the background. The people who witnessed the scene that day said, “See how (Jesus) loved (Lazarus)!’”

Jesus grieved for Lazarus and his family. He hurt as they hurt even though he knew what would come next. Therein lies our hope. Jesus is not indifferent to our struggle. He is with us through it all.

“Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”
(Isaiah 49:13)

Do not lose hope. God will not abandon you in your time of need. He stayed with me; he stayed with my husband. He will stay with you.

“Where can I go to escape your spirit? Where can I flee to escape your presence? If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there. If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be. If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn, and settle down on the other side of the sea, even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me. If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me, and the light will turn to night all around me, even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day; darkness and light are the same to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)

Your darkness does not overwhelm God. He can see through it to the other side. Just hang on. He will “deliver you from death, your eyes from tears, your feet from stumbling, so you may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:8-9)

There is hope!

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check the following websites for available resources.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 

National Suicide Prevention Website

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website

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Family Matters

silhouette familyIn my previous post, I shared some of my frustrations with how the Christian community falls short in dealing with those suffering from mental illness, specifically depression. Starting today, I want to share with you the hope I’ve found in God’s word through one story in particular—John’s account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

Trust me when I say that coming back from the throes of depression is no less than a resurrection. God, by his great mercy and through mental health professionals, has brought scripture to life in my family by “bestow(ing) on (us) a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” ( Isaiah 61:3)–not in a week, not in a month, but over time. And I will always be thankful for that particular resurrection and the people who helped us through it.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing how the story of Lazarus offers hope not only for those who suffer from depression but also for the family members who struggle through it with them.

Depression hurts everyone involved. It allows little room for loving care, not because you’re trying to be selfish, though that’s how it seems to those around you. You simply have no energy left. Your entire focus is on getting through the day. Once you’ve sloughed through the mire of meaninglessness, all you want to do is collapse and forget that you have to do it all again the next day.

Important relationships suffer because it feels like a rejection to those closest to you, like you’re turning your back and giving up, which, in a way, you are. Perspective dies and the ability to connect disappears, and your loved ones feel abandoned. Since they don’t know how to fix the problem, they often ask for help, which is exactly what Lazarus’s family did.

His sisters knew he was not well, and they sent for Jesus immediately.

When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’” (John 11:4-7)

Notice that Jesus didn’t swoop in, snap his fingers, and make it all go away. When Jesus heard the news about Lazarus, he waited. He had a deeper understanding of the situation than anyone else, and Mary, Martha, and the disciples were left to trust his judgment.

We must do the same. The Lord doesn’t always work the way we think he should, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working.

Anyone who believes that Christians should magically get better does not have a firm grasp of scripture. God does not perform on demand. Isaiah 55 reminds us that ”[God’s] thoughts are not [our] thoughts, neither are [our] ways [God’s] ways….As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways and [his] thoughts than [our] thoughts.”

Though there are many points that could be argued about Jesus’ hesitation in Lazarus’s story, for our purposes, let’s focus on just one: Though Jesus always has a plan, we aren’t always privy to it. Even Mary and Martha struggled, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs. 21 & 32)

The challenge for family members is to remember not to lose hope. Ask for help and encourage your loved one to seek it as well. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, realizing that they need help, but because the depression is so progressive, they hesitate in agreeing to it.

Don’t give up. Keep seeking. Keep praying. And, above all else, offer encouragement where you can. This article suggests some simple options that may help.

Another thing to note from the Lazarus story is that in spite of his sisters’ care, Lazarus still died. That’s what depression is like. It feels like death, and grieving accompanies the loss on every level.

Family members should not blame themselves when a loved one succumbs to depression any more than they should blame themselves when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. You did not cause it, and all your efforts will not fix it. You can seek professional help and offer prayers, love, and support, but only God and qualified mental health experts can provide what is truly needed for recovery.

During my husband’s depression, I often felt bereft—definitely out of my element and confused about what to do. Though I had experienced depression, his didn’t look like mine. Just as we are different, so the manifestation of the illness was different, and I regret to say that I was not much help to him initially.

I was overwhelmed and had few places to turn, but I found strength and comfort from the Bible, specifically this verse:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8)

I recited those verses every day and made them my prayer. The good news is, God answered!

Do not think for one moment that I handled depression (either my husband’s or my own) without a hitch. We both struggled, agonized, and grieved. Sometimes it was a sad, quiet grief, sometimes it was an angry, frustrated rant, but no part of it was pretty.

The point is, we both got through it, and our marriage is stronger now than it’s ever been.  That’s why there’s hope for you and your loved one.

Remember that you are not alone. Over 16 million people in the United States struggle with depression, so help can be found. Check your area for local mental health professionals, ask your doctor for referrals, and talk to a trusted friend or adviser. You can also check the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website to find help online and in your area.

And in the meantime, my prayer for you is this: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

 

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The God of All Comfort

woman-1006100_960_720The impact of mental health issues has been in the spotlight again with the news of recent well-known suicide victims. With each revelation, the shock is greater and the confusion more intense. Why would anyone make that particular choice? What were they thinking? I have seen a few relevant articles that have spoken to these questions. See here for one example.

There have also been discussions about what the church’s response should be and how the Christian community can most effectively deal with serious mental health issues. It has been my experience that most Christians have no clue. Even those who are well intentioned have fallen short of offering any sound advice on a solid spiritual outlook on mental health.

So as a woman who has struggled with depression for years and who has watched close family members struggle with it, nearly to the point of no return, I offer my scriptural understanding of the battle with this particular monster. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the insight I’ve found through my experience and the hope I’ve found in God’s word.

Today, I begin with a basic fact: Depression steals, kills, and destroys.

Make no mistake, the illness is real, and it has devastating effects. It steals your joy and ravages all hope. It kills your sense of self and your understanding of a loving God. It destroys perspective and damages your most important relationships.

A person who struggles with depression does not lose faith in God. She loses faith in herself and her ability to be of any use to anyone. Her most ardent desire becomes simply to find relief, and often her prayer life is more intense. “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy (depression)?’ My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes (my own thoughts)  taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (from Psalm 42:9-10)

Too many Christians believe that if you just pray harder, trust more, or obey better that the problem will magically disappear. This could not be further from the truth. There is no vaccination against depression, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

I have an acquaintance who had a severe heart attack and needed immediate open-heart surgery. I remember how shocked everyone was at hearing the news because he exercised regularly, was not in any way overweight, and seemed the picture of health. He was also a faithful man of God. Still, he needed emergency care.

Depression is no different. No one is immune. A faithful follower may experience it, or a person who exercises regularly and interacts with others often. A normally happy, carefree person can be struck with this illness and need emergency care. But the reaction of those around her will be much different than the man who needed the heart surgery.

The judgment a person faces when others find out she is or has struggled with depression is severe, which is why so few want to admit to the struggle and why many do not get the help they need.

It is time to stop that cycle.

If you are struggling with depression—or any other mental illness—know that God still loves you and help can be found. Don’t give up!

In II Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

That is my desire with this series. I want to offer you the comfort I have found. I hope you’ll follow along. I encourage you to share these blogs with others who may need them, and feel free to message me with any prayer concerns for anyone you know who struggles with depression.

_____________________

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 

National Suicide Prevention Website

 

 

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Fractured

glass-89068__340We place great importance on a person’s last words. They are often recorded in our memory or written down for posterity, and when those last words contain a request, we do our best to fulfill it.

John 17 records one of Jesus’ last requests—a prayer he offered to his Father on our behalf.

 

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  (vs.20-23)

Jesus’ request is heartfelt and simple: that those who believe in him would be “brought to complete unity.” He wants us to experience the same bond with other believers as he has with God. It’s an incredibly beautiful sentiment. To be so close that heart and mind agree—that spirit and purpose peacefully coincide. But is that possible? Can a people group as diverse as the worldwide Church ever achieve that level of unity?

It seems nearly impossible, especially in today’s polarized climate. We cannot view national news or our social media feed without seeing division and strife with every click of mouse or remote. Tribalism (loyalty to a social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group) is rampant, especially among Christians. We have pitted ourselves against each other in politics, ideology, and doctrine and, in the process, have so fractured the body of Christ that the image of Christ is barely visible.

Read those verses from John again. Why does Jesus want us to be unified? So that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Our unity is a testimony to God’s love for the world.

This was Jesus’ earnest desire for his followers, yet it’s a request we have largely ignored. And why not? Isn’t it an unrealistic expectation? How does he expect us to manage such an impractical task?

Well, let’s see.

We love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

We Serve.

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

We Forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:13-14)

We Put Others’ Needs Before Our Own Rights.

“‘I have the right to do anything,’” you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (I Cor. 10:23-24)

As it turns out, Jesus was not asking for the impossible. He was asking for our obedience—not so that we become carbon copies of each other, but so that we become a carbon copy of him.

When his words impact us more than our current Twitter feed, when being part of his kingdom is more important than being part of any denomination, when his story supersedes any reported by Fox News or MSNBC, and when our allegiance to him is more valuable than our allegiance to policy, party, or country, then we have the hope of truly being one in Christ.

The good news is that we can repair the fracture—we still have the ability to show the world God’s love. We need only to follow and obey.

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Someone to Guide Me

cave-1835825_640Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. ~ Anthony Bourdain

A little over a year ago, my best friend and I decided to challenge ourselves and go on an adventure. We planned a trip to a local cavern and signed up to participate in a guided tour of the lowest portion. We’re both in good health and in decent—if not top—shape, and we decided it was as good a time as any to mark the event off our bucket list.

We had a great time and did indeed push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. I can honestly say that spelunking was the most difficult physical challenge I’ve faced to date. Our guide, a young man who knew the caverns like his own backyard, was knowledgeable and adventurous and gave our group a thorough trip to the center of that particular patch of earth and back. He was confident, informative, and he made sure we didn’t miss a single crevice. I will never forget that arduous journey or the lesson I learned on my way out.

I, being the slowest in the group, brought up the rear for the entire tour. We had been traveling for over an hour and still had a long way to go before reaching daylight, and I was struggling. The guide noticed and quietly came back to walk alongside me and gave me one simple instruction:  Follow my footsteps and you’ll be fine.

That young man knew every inch of that cavern, and when he asked me to follow him, I didn’t hesitate. I trusted him to get me out, and at that moment the Lord spoke to me—not in audible words, of course, but he spoke loud and clear to my spirit.

“This is what I do for you, my child. When your journey is long, when you’re not sure of the terrain, when you’re tired and ready to collapse, when you cannot find your way out…I will be your guide. Just follow my lead.”

Anthony Bourdain was right. The journey isn’t always pretty, and it always leaves its mark. My body will never forget the sore muscles and various bruises traversing that cave left with me, and my heart won’t soon forget the lesson God taught me when I wearily trudged behind that patient young man back to the light.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” – Psalm 139:7-10

 

 

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A Birthday Celebration

“Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.” Psalm 138:6-7

My birthday always reminds me of God’s work on my behalf, so this passage strikes a chord with me today. You see, this day was never supposed to come. I was not a healthy infant, and only weeks after my birth, the doctors diagnosed me with cystic fibrosis—a disease for which there is no cure. They told my parents that I would be lucky to reach the age of 18.

My parents immediately began praying and asking others to pray on my behalf. They asked God to preserve my life—and he did. A few weeks later, the doctors, standing with several lab tests in hand, were confounded. They could not understand what had happened, but my parents knew, and as I grew up, they made sure I knew too.

While I don’t understand why God chose to heal me, I can never forget or fail to be thankful that he did. I wish I could say that I can look back on each of my years with the confidence that I lived each day as God would want me too. I cannot. But I do wake up each year on this day and smile, thankful for all the wonderful gifts God has given me.

I encourage you to join me and spend a few moments today thanking God for his gifts to you. Though everyone’s story is unique, I am sure you can remember a time in life when God looked kindly on you and preserved your life. Celebrate that moment and all the moments since, and let them remind you to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever.

 

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For God So Loved the World

globe-hands“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 (NIV)

This verse is familiar to almost everyone–from people who have learned it as children and can recite it by memory, to people who may not know what it means but have seen it printed on posters used for protests and end zones alike. It’s a reminder of God’s amazing gift to us in Jesus—the proof of his love for all of us in the flesh-and-blood person of his Son. John 3:16 is a verse of hope.

But claiming that hope for ourselves and offering it freely to others can often present us with challenging circumstances. Jesus understood that and offered us an example of how we should deal with those times when sharing God’s love in the real world may cause us difficulty.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells his followers a story about a Jewish man who was beaten, robbed, and left to die beside the road. In this story, the man in need was not helped by his countrymen. The two who saw him—both religious leaders—left him there without pause. The man who stopped to help was a Samaritan—a member of society who was perceived by the Jews of Jesus’ time to be inferior and disreputable. But this Samaritan not only stopped to help the beaten man, he transported him to a nearby inn, tended his wounds, and paid for his ongoing care. He went out of his way, sacrificing his own time and money, to help a stranger in need. Jesus finishes the story with this simple instruction: “Go and do likewise.”

What does that mean for us today? In a time when rhetoric and outrage over immigration and political asylum dominate the headlines, how are Christians supposed to respond? What is our responsibility—really—for issues concerning the well-being of those (within and outside our borders) deemed undesirable or untrustworthy?

While the legal intricacies of immigration and asylum are complex and cumbersome—and often necessary—Jesus’ command is simple. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That command is where Jesus’ story started. When we read the entire passage of “The Good Samaritan,” we see that the question asked of Jesus was this: Who is my neighbor? Jesus responded with a story about a man helping a person whom his people considered an enemy.

Jesus’ message is clear. For people who claim the name and cause of Christ, the response to strangers in need is to show compassion and address their need. We should not get so distracted by political posturing that we forget who we are in Christ and what we’ve been given by his grace. And we dare not neglect offering that grace to others.

In Matthew 25, Jesus shares another story that relays the importance he places on the response his followers have toward those in need. When the people in the story question the king, “When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” The king responds, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

As citizens of America, we have the right to vote for, support, and champion any cause we choose, regardless of what anyone else may think. As members together of the body of Christ—the church—we have a responsibility to represent His cause above all, and we cannot genuinely proclaim to others the hope that God so loves the world unless we are willing to truly do so ourselves.

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In God We Trust

coin“The Lord is my fortress! Don’t say to me, ‘Escape like a bird to the mountains!’  You tell me, ‘Watch out! Those evil people have put their arrows on their bows, and they are standing in the shadows, aiming at good people.  What can an honest person do when everything crumbles?’” ~ Psalm 11:1-3 (CEV)

This lament sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I heard and read statements like it throughout the recent Presidential campaign—not only from the candidates, but from the people around me. I’ll admit that those thoughts crossed my mind more than once as well.

Presidential elections have a way of bringing out the worry in people, turning normally level-headed individuals into would-be “chicken-littles,” warning everyone how terrible the world will be if that “other” candidate wins.

But Psalm 11 offers us a different perspective. Look again at the opening line. David, the writer of this passage, places the most important detail up front, which, simply put, is this: In God I trust.

He starts with the unshakeable confidence that he can count on God’s faithfulness regardless of what’s going on around him. In speaking this truth first, David proves he doesn’t just believe in God, he trusts him.

Can we say the same?

Do we wring our hands over our decisions, worrying what will become of us after the inauguration? Or do we rejoice like David, knowing that our God sees all and works for our good? Do we truly trust God to shape our future, or do we depend on our government for that?

I acknowledge that our leaders influence the material aspects of our lives and culture, but I also know that politics will never offer lasting peace. Only God can do that.

Want proof?  Consider these facts, reported in a May 2015 Washington Post article.

  • Today, the Christian community in Latin America and Africa, alone, account for
    1 billion people.
  • One out of four Christians in the world presently is an Africa[n], and the Pew Research Center estimates that will grow [over the next decade].
  • Demographers estimate that more Christian believers are found worshipping in China on any given Sunday than in the United States.
  • In the last century, Christianity grew at twice the rate of population in [Asia].

Many of these believers live in an environment that is overwhelmingly hostile to their faith and under regimes that do not allow the free expression of religion, yet their numbers are growing exponentially. Why? Perhaps it’s because they have learned to place their trust in God above any loyalty to nation, creed, or cause.

Their hope does not rest on a political party, but on an eternal promise. They know, as we should, that “there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ….He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him” (Philippians 3:20-21, MSG).

As we watch the inauguration of a new President, we need to remember that our peace is found in God’s presence and our hope is found in his promise. And as we move forward, may the words “In God We Trust” be inscribed not only on our currency but also in our character.

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Joy Revealed

holiday-joy“With all my heart I praise the Lord, and I am glad because of God my Savior. He cares for me, his humble servant.” ~ Luke 1:46-48 (CEV)

As this Christmas season comes to a close, I can’t help thinking of all I have to be thankful for. After sharing in my last post about the sadness that darkened so many of my days, I cannot fail to share the joy that now lightens my heart.

It wasn’t that there was no joy before. I still had an innate understanding that my life was good, a heartfelt thankfulness that my family was whole, and relief that, in spite of it all, I was still standing. But beyond the cognitive recognition that I was surviving the storm, the clouds still hovered and I longed for the sunlight.

In his book The Myth of Happiness, Rich Wagner explains that joy is the “constant presence of God inside [us] sprinkled with moments of genuine delight.” His definition speaks to my experience. Though I never doubted God’s presence, I missed those moments of delight.

Today, delight bubbles up inside, reminding me that God does indeed care for me, his humble servant. He didn’t forget me, and he didn’t leave me where I was. He was with me the whole time and brought me through to the other side.

He spoke to me through countless sermons and songs, provided constant support through my family, and refreshed me with the companionship of a dear friend. He kept his promise to stay “close to the brokenhearted and [to] save those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

He did this for me. He will also do it for you.

Just as the sun continues to shine behind low-lying clouds, joy can be found within every trying circumstance. Just trust that “the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” and never stop looking for that break in the clouds.

 

 

 

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Out of the Darkness

tunnel“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2

These are familiar words to me. I’ve heard them read and recited all of my life, and I’ve always associated them with Christmas—for good reason. These words prophesy the birth of Christ.

The passage goes on to say, “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given.” It’s a promise of hope for a people looking for deliverance.  On an intellectual level, a historical level, I understand this and appreciate its message.

But this verse has become much more personal to me of late because I’m the one who’s been living in the shadows.  I have not experienced physical captivity like the Israelites, nor do I suffer from a lack of spiritual hope.  My darkness is one of immense grief—the kind and volume of which seems to block out the sun, eclipsing joy.

The past 18 months have brought significant loss—the death of my dad, the heartache of watching a loved one struggle with depression,  the loss of a dream, the separation from a community of faith, and the transition to an empty nest.

For these many months, I’ve felt the constant weight of sadness and distress. Though I’ve never doubted God’s presence, I have felt the absence of his peace.

It’s as if I held only a flickering candle when what I yearned for was the steady pulse of a beacon.

I’ve often recalled the passage in Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….”  To my Type A personality, those words always sounded like a tidy little process—a calendar of events that I could pencil in, as if I could control when each occurred and how long each would last.

But that isn’t the case.

Waiting for hope to return—in the quiet, in the dark—is hard.

The good news is, the light does shine again. I have seen it already and see it more fully every day. Finally, it’s starting to break through. My smiles are brighter, my laughter more frequent, and my joy more full.

So this Christmas, I celebrate Isaiah’s long-ago prophecy of hope because it has become real for me in the here and now.

If you are currently in the shadows, don’t give up. The hope of that prophecy isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s eternal—new with every sunrise.  Simply be patient and take comfort in the Psalmist’s words:

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

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