Do you ever find yourself discouraged? Despondent? Depressed?
Good! That means you’re human.
And you’re not alone.
One Sunday morning in 1866, C. H. Spurgeon stunned his five thousand listeners when from the pulpit of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle he announced, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to."
For some of his audience it was incomprehensible that the world's greatest preacher could know the valley of despair.
It is reported that Martin Luther was subject to such fits of darkness that he would secret himself away for days, and his family would remove all dangerous implements from the house for fear he would harm himself.
In the midst of one of these times, his wife, Katie, entered his room dressed in black as if she was in mourning. Startled, Luther asked who had died. She replied that from the way he was acting, she assumed that perhaps God had died!
We often hear people quote the familiar verses found at the end of Isaiah 40 – verses about mounting up with wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not fainting.
But we may not be aware that the prophet who is urging God’s people to “wait on the Lord” is addressing them in the midst of a prolonged season of national despair and discouragement. Isaiah’s countrymen were accusing God of either being unaware of or unconcerned about the hardships they were facing as a nation.
But their complaints against God actually reveal more about them than it does about Him. In their self-pity, bitterness, frustration, rebellion and anger, they had allowed their hearts to become hardened against God. The bottom line is, they were charging Him with being uncaring because they weren’t getting their way.
It’s not uncommon in the face of hardships for any of us to question God’s wisdom, His sovereign authority or his love. But when we do, we can allow frustration and self-pity to control our thinking and our actions.
In the midst of their despair, Isaiah reminds his countrymen about the character of their God.
“Do you not know?” he asks. “Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
In the midst of our discouragement and despair, we often need to pull back and be reminded of who God is. He has not abandoned us. He has not forgotten us. He knows what we’re facing. He cares. And He has promised to use our pain and despair for good in our lives.
We just need to wait.
How long? We don’t know. But the command is still the same. Wait on the Lord.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted. But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Waiting on the Lord is not a passive activity. “Wait” is the Hebrew qawah, which means “to trust, hope, or have confidence in.” Originally qawah meant “to twist, bind.” It was used of the process involved in making a rope, which eventually produces an instrument or a tool that is strong and capable of holding a heavy weight.
Waiting on the Lord involves binding God’s promises into a strong cord that can hold you tightly to Him in the midst of your trial.
In seasons of discouragement and despair, we have two choices:
Or we can choose to behold God, trust in Him, find our strength and comfort in him, and trust and act on His promises.
If you are discouraged and depressed, here are some practical ways you can wait on the Lord. . . .
Find time to rest – that’s what Elijah did
Ponder God’s character and love, as Isaiah exhorts us
Make extra time to study God’s Word
Surround yourself with uplifting music – as King Saul did
Spend extra time with your Christian friends and church family
Do something nice for one person each week.
These are probably the opposite of what you feel like doing. But walking by faith means doing what honors God whether we feel like it or not.
In the midst of your trial, wait. Do not become weary in well doing. Press on. In due time, you will reap, if you don’t give up (Galatians 6:9).
One week from today (Wednesday, June 20) is our next Summer Kids Fest event. For kids ages 0-12 (reminder – if the kids are pre-kindergarten, a parent needs to stay with them during Kids Fest). Get ready for some fun! And think now about kids you could invite!
If you’d like to help out or if you have any questions, contact Jen Gurney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And as we heard in church on Sunday, part of Summer Kids Fest this year includes having kids find ways to earn money this summer so they can buy some simple school supplies for teachers at David O Dodd Elementary School. The goal is to put together some school supply bundles that the teachers could have available for students. According to our elementary school experts (Miss Carmen and Miss Beth), teachers would love to have a stash of crayons, notebooks and notebook paper, #2 pencils, scissors, colored pencils, pencil sharpeners – things kids need and use regularly in the classroom.
If you have children, get them involved and use this as a way to get them thinking about how we can help others in our (hopefully) soon to be new neighborhood (more on that in a few weeks). Are there chores around the house that they could do to earn money for supplies? Could your child(ren) have a school supply lemonade stand? Be creative and keep reminding the kids that this is their project!! A way to be an example even though they are young! (1 Timothy 4:12).
And if you don’t have children at home, you can pitch in too. We’ll have a collection bin in the foyer at church all summer long. Bring some supplies this Sunday and donate them to the cause.
And while you’re starting to make your 4th of July holiday plans, don’t forget that we’re planning a night at a Travelers game on Tuesday, July 3. The Travs play the San Antonio Missions, and there are post game fireworks! More details soon. But make plans for a night at the old ball game on Independence Day eve.
Which should you love more – your freedom in Christ or your brother or sister in Christ? You know the right answer, don’t you? Romans 14 gives us clear guidance on that question, as we’ll see this week.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!