Reeling from the suicides of Fashion Designer Kate Spade and Chef Anthony Bourdain, the American public is again discussing pain, sorrow, and depression. We all recognize that life is marred by hurt and sadness. Even fame and fortune cannot stave off discouragement, sorrow, and hopelessness.
And sorrow and suffering are not just subjects found in that afflict those outside the church. Both evils regularly afflict Christians. The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon was frequently attacked by depression as he struggled with gout, rheumatism, and neuritis, as he was attacked by the media and other pastors, and as he endured a daunting daily schedule. Once after a prankster caused a stampede at his church that result in the deaths of seven people, Spurgeon fell into a deep depression. His wife said, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.”
As the late preacher R.C. Sproul said,
The presence of faith gives no guarantee of the absence of spiritual depression; however, the dark night of the soul always gives way to the brightness of the noonday light of the presence of God.
Christians suffer all kinds of hardships including, sickness, persecution, hunger, rejection, and even death. And as we bump against the hardships of life and ministry, we can be tempted to lose hope. We can become tempted to stay in bed, to stop going to class and to stop attending church. What do we do when those moments come? What do we do when reason itself seems to be replaced we depression, sadness, and hopelessness? How do we get back to the brightness of the noon day?
We remember! Specifically we:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David!
Paul tells his mentee in the faith, Timothy, to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul tells Timothy that the key to the Christian life is found in Biblical thinking. As Timothy constantly and regularly dwells on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and on Jesus humanity, he will find the power to suffer well.
Paul mentions Jesus resurrection, because it is the crux of our faith, the centerpiece of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Christ resurrection is a matter of first importance. Because Christ is alive, death is conquered and salvation is possible. We have every reason to hope as Paul writes later in verse 11b-12a, “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. “
The hope of the Christian life begins and ends with the resurrection. Pastor C.J. Mahaney rightfully notes, “Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish.” Because Christ lives, we too will live. We will live in eternity with him. We will once again walk and commune with God like Adam and Eve did, lacking shame and enjoying close, intimate, and unbroken fellowship with our God.
And we also find our hope for tomorrow. Because Christ lives, we know we can gain victory over our sin. We will find the brightness of the noonday sun. We will be able to overcome lust, pride, depression, anger, and covetousness. Our sin and our failures and our sorrow over our failures are not the end of our story. Christ is alive. And we are alive in Christ. The same power the brought Christ to life is the same power that guarantees our victory over today’s trials and the guarantees the glorious of the next life. When we feel down and sorrowful, we should head Paul’s advice and remember the resurrected Jesus.
And we should remember that Jesus is the offspring of David. Jesus is fully man. He suffered like you and I have suffered. He was tempted just like you and I have been and will be. Jesus understands our frailty. And he is not a demanding father who requires us to do the impossible in our own strength. He is not the over zealous Little-Coach who expects his kids to lead the team in home runs, failing to notice that his little guy is 3’5″ and weighs only 55 lbs. Our God is a compassionate savior who understands and empathizes with our weakness and struggles. Hebrews 4:15-16 states,
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Often the very shame of having to admit to God that we struggle drives us deeper into despair. After all why would God help someone as messed up as me? Yet He does! He delights in helping us when we are hopeless. God does not demand that we find hope apart from us and then show up to his throne looking all prime an proper. God invites us to come to him when we feel like staying in bed, when we try to avoid every other human being, and when we lock ourselves away in our room. He invites us to come to him when we look more like a homeless person than a doctor, college student, or well-organized mom. He does not expect us to approach Him in strength. Rather he gives grace and help to us in our time of need. He invites the weak to come to him for strength. Spurgeon rightfully found great hope in the humanity of Christ once saying,
As the mother feels with the weakness of her babe, so does Jesus feel with the poorest, saddest, and weakest of his chosen.
Christ cares deeply about his hurting and suffering children and freely offers to help all.
Remember that Christ is the seed of David. Remember he does not hand us punishment but mercy and grace in our time of need. Stop pretending to be alright and ask God for help. He will give it to us. And we know he can liberate us from our sorrow for he has conquered death. He reigns and will we reign with Him!
If you feel down today, if you feel depressed, and if you feel overcome by sorrow, reflect upon the risen Lord, the seed of David. Daily fight to remember all that Christ did on the cross and remember Christ’s compassion. Think biblically and the light of the noonday will come. Christ, the seed of David, is risen. Do you remember?