His life situation must have been difficult. Listen as a writer bears his feelings because of some recent experiences: he was “on a diet of tears – tears for breakfast, tears for supper” and he found himself “down in the dumps” and “crying the blues”. If that wasn’t bad enough, life seemed to be full of chaos, crushing him. Enemies were a source of harassment which left him “walking around in tears”. While you may find words similar to these penned in a book found on a “best-selling” list, this description comes from Psalm 42 (The Message Bible). We may not know the details of the situation but we all can resonate with some of those feelings! Life can be a challenge, difficult, even downright awful and nasty! Yet, if we jump over to John 15, we hear Jesus saying to His followers, “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” How do you marry these two seemingly contradictory and incongruous ideas?
This question is discussed in the book Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (one of Pastor Jay’s “Top Ten List” and also in our church library!). While not denying the great difficulties of life, the late British preacher says that, “Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give the appearance of unhappiness and . . . absence of joy.” He asserts that this lack of joy is a significant reason why “large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity.” What’s the remedy? We must address, preach, and question ourselves and then go on to remind ourselves “of God, Who God is, and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.” The psalmist did that when he said to himself “put your hope in God” (42:5). Other examples of this are found in the book of Ephesians. Paul opens the letter by praising God because He “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (1:3). In the next chapter, the apostle reminds Christians that God has made us alive, raised us up, and seated us (already!) “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (2:4-6). My responsibility is to transform my mind by meditating often on these amazing truths; preaching the gospel to myself daily – reminding myself what Christ has done for me through His gift of salvation. Then when the nastiness of life comes, I can choose to focus on these tenets which will bring hope and Christ’s joy.
One last exhortation from Lloyd-Jones: “The Lord Jesus Christ . . . is our joy and our happiness, even as He is our peace. He is life, He is everything . . . Put at the center the only One who has a right to be there, the Lord of Glory, Who so loved you that He went to the Cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek Him, seek His face, and all the other things will be added unto you”. To that, may we all be able to say “Amen”!
by Tim Bruns, Pastor of Adult and Care Ministries
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