You have been ministering to people for five months during these unprecedented days of uncertainty. It may have taken a toll on you emotionally and spiritually. If you need to talk to someone privately, there is a Clergy Care Hotline for you. Phone today — 1-888-5-CLERGY.
There are times when life can feel dark. “Darkness is my closest friend.” This cryptic line is found in our Bible. I’m grateful that God’s Word is so real and honest.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 88: 18(b), “Darkness is my closest friend”. I was reading Psalm 88 and forgot how depressing it was. Psalm 88 is written by Heman, a Hebrew name meaning “faithful”. But when I think of a “HE-man”, I think of a naturally tough, stoic, man of true grit. Heman doesn’t come across this way in Psalm 88 at all. He underscores the reality of a “dark night of the soul”. He’s a man suffering from a spiritual depression, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called it.
God doesn’t always give answers to our suffering. There are not always happy endings. Verse 1 is the only positive verse in the entire Psalm. The psalmist reiterates that when we suffer, prayer connects us to the Lord. Psalm 88: 1-2 (NLT) says: “I cry out to you by day, I come to you at night… Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry.”
The point is, do not allow darkness to silence our conversation with the Lord. Behind the shifting sand hides an anchor chain that connects us to God — that is prayer.
Read the line in William Cowper’s hymn, “God moves in a Mysterious Way”: “Behind a frowning providence hides the smile of God.” Joseph testified of this assurance in Genesis 50:20 (NLT): “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…” Joni Eareckson-Tada shares that a friend said to her, soon after her diving accident, a truth statement that has kept her hopeful for well over 50 years since being paralyzed and in constant, chronic pain: “God permits, what He hates, to accomplish what He loves.”
A dear friend of mine, Andrea Mahaffey, has suffered some dark days. She and her husband John have served two Fellowship churches over 35 years and have experienced the ups and downs of pastoral ministry. Please take a moment to watch Andrea’s testimonial video HERE and discover if you can relate to her pain in days gone by.
Too many of us have written our life’s script based on past hurts, suffering, and disappointments. But this is not Jesus’ script for each of us. It never has been. Jesus has a preferred future for each of us. One that has hope and meaning and purpose. We learn about this in an interesting story found in John 9:1-2 (NLT):
“As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Teacher’, his disciples asked Him, ‘Why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?’
We think with our twenty-first century sensibilities: “What are they talking about?” But in their culture it made a lot of sense. The commonly held belief of the day was that anyone with a disability received it due to their own personal sin. For example, when Job’s life fell apart, the response of his friends was, “What have you been doing wrong?” The disciples learned the man had been blind from birth, so how could he have sinned in the womb — it must have happened because of his parent’s sin!
The result is this blind man became an outcast due to his parents’ sin. In this shame-filled world 2000 years ago, this blind man did what all blind people did to live — he begged. The script of his life was one of rejection. His life was defined by societal shame and pain. However, the point of Jesus’ story has very little to do with the man’s blindness.
The power of God had also made the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead come back to life, the waves calmed, and 5,000 being fed. The point of the story, according to Jesus, is reported to us in verse 3b: “He was born blind so that the power of God could be seen in him!” And this same power is available to each and every one of us today!
If you are suffering or feeling overwhelmed today, let me encourage you to talk to someone.
Our Fellowship has partnered with Focus on the Family Canada to offer a Clergy Care Hotline for all our pastors, missionaries, chaplains, and their spouses and children. If you’re feeling duress, contact this Hotline at 1-888-5-CLERGY and speak confidentially to a professional, licensed, Christian Counselor.
For more information check out the website: clergycare.ca.