Just done with it?

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Two recent conversations were hard and sad.  In one, a woman described how she decided to end her marriage of 20 years, not for infidelity, not for abuse, but because,  in her words, “I just needed more than he was willing to give me.”  Several years after the bitter divorce she was regretting that decision because of the high cost to herself, her friends, her family. Her now adult children are distant. Many mutual friends were lost. She wondered aloud what could have developed if she had pursued making it better instead of ending it. I listened with compassion because no one can answer her questions, painful as they are.

Another person told me about his friend who suddenly took his own life when he was faced with some very difficult consequences for past actions. He left friends and family reeling with sorrow, full of questions, many angry that he had not called on them for help. Oh what sadness I feel for that man who decided he had no hope for tomorrow and for those left to deal with his actions.

I do not share those stories in judgment, but as examples of the more extreme choices that people can make when they lose hope, when life closes in.  ALL of us have moments when we wonder, “Can I do this for another day?” as we wrestle with difficult situations, don’t we?

Please do not try to carry the weight of life by yourself. Isolated people tend to amplify the desperate thoughts. Share your thoughts with a friend, with a pastor, or with a counselor. “But, Jerry, why? I pray. Isn’t that enough?”  We ought to pray about our struggles. Nobody denies that, however, even prayer needs to be shared. I know it is said so often as to be almost clichéd but it remains true. We need one another. A burden shared is a burden halved. An old proverb reminds us that “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.”  Our friend may have no solution readily available, but if they are sensitive to our need, able to listen, and willing to care, we can find hope for a new day.  The Spirit teaches us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NIV)

Here is a pointed question for us all.
What about the struggles with commitment to faith, to Christ Himself?
How can we deal with those temptations to walk away, to abandon His Church, even faith in Jesus, because of disappointment, disillusionment, or the failure of someone that we trusted?

Keep talking with others! You are not the first to think the things you do, to feel the way that you feel. You may not hear what you want to hear. Someone you love may reject you, or hand you platitudes. But, keep talking anyway.  Avoiding fellowship with other disciples is usually the first step to leaving the faith.

Keep doing the spiritual disciplines. Journal your prayers even if you feel like they are just echoing in the room when you say them. Open the Scripture, returning to familiar passages. Change up the way you read it, perhaps letting an app in your phone read the words to you, or using a different translation to renew the truth to you. Go to church, even if it just an act of obedience unmatched with enthusiasm. Present yourself to God in worship.

Acknowledge real emotions.  Avoiding what you are feeling because it is unpleasant or unacceptable in your worldview is like refusing to treat a festering wound by just covering it up.  Taking the cap off of the bottle of our emotions can be like putting the top off of a bottle of shaken soda!  Initially, they may explode messily – with tears, with anger, with words we did not think we were capable of saying.  But, when we are honest to God and ourselves, we can begin to work through those emotions and find new peace.  A good friend, a wise counselor, is invaluable to this process, especially if you are in a critical time of life.

Trust God with thanks for the things that are good and right.  Even when life is upside down in one area, there are other places where the sun still shines. Speaking words of true gratitude for those things helps to strengthen the overall foundation of faith.  The Psalmist found himself bitter at injustice, ready to turn from God. But, he made a choice and found renewal. “So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought …” (Psalm 73:16-17, NLT)  “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Is your faith being tested? Are you ready to quit – on some important relationship, at work, on your church, or even on Jesus?  Hit the pause button and reach out today.  Take the counsel offered above.

Here is a word from the Word.  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NIV)  You can stand on that!

________

Rescue Story

(Zach Williams sings this great song hope)

There I was empty handed
Crying out from the pit of my despair
There you were in the shadows
Holding out Your hand You met me there

 And now where would I be without You
Where would I be Jesus
You were the voice in the desert
Calling me out in the dead of night
Fighting my battles for me
You are my rescue story
Lifted me up from the ashes
You carried my soul from death to life
Bringing me from glory to glory
You are my rescue story

 You are You are
You are my rescue story
You are You are 

You were writing the pages
Before I had a name
Before I needed grace oh
Singing songs of redemption
‘Cause every time I ran away
You were louder than my shame

 You never gave up on me
You never gave up on me
You are my testimony oh

 You never give up on me
Oh You never give up on me
Oh this is my testimony oh

 You are You are
Oh You never gave up on me
Never gave up on me
You are You are
Yeah You are my rescue story

 Andrew Ripp | Ethan Hulse | Jonathan Smith | Zach Williams © 2019 Anthems of Hope (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

 

CCLI License # 810055

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