I am struggling.
It pains me to write those words because I wish I they were not true. But anxiety and depression weigh heavily on my mind and heart.
I have written more freely about it in recent months than I cared to, and I think it is because I have needed to do it. And I think we all need to be reminded – especially me – that we are supposed to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), that it is a two-way street among our faith family.
One of the things that has become more abundantly clear as I have begun owning my struggles is that God is strong enough to carry me through whatever. He has not only given me brothers and sisters in His family to help me but that He has reached out “the mighty hand of God to me” to lift me up, and I can lay my anxieties on Him “because He cares for [me]” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
I want you to understand that this is not a cry for help or a plea for sympathy. It is a small bit of vulnerability so that, maybe, you can see the hand of Christ reaching out to you as well.
It has been comforting this week to think on a Puritan prayer that came up in a Bible study Candice was listening to. It is called “Need of Grace” and found in the book The Valley of Vision. I have thought on it, prayed it, and have not been able to get it out of my mind. It has reminded me of how much I need grace, and I have translated it to modern English for you to check out:
You know everything about me—my unworthiness to serve You,
how I try to fall back into crucified sins,
how, no despite my best efforts, I fall short of Your glory,
how cold and stone-like my heart seems to be.
I am not strong—not wise—not productive—
You know I struggle in the flesh and sometimes hate it, too.
I just do not know what You want me to do
since I feel alone
because I have tried (foolishly) to flee Your presence;
I cannot be near You and not see my sin clearly,
how it comes from my nature and not Yours;
Your light makes it clear,
and I fear I walk in darkness still.
Pull me close again and let Your saving grace wash over me
even though I have abused Your gospel.
Help me to make being like You as essential to me as oxygen,
let walking with You be as natural as breathing,
let Your grace fuel me and grow me like food to my body.
Oh, Lord, it is so easy to step off the path You have laid for me;
It seems that when I do the quick-sand of my desire is right there;
Will You help me keep the faith just a little while longer,
help me hold out until You come for me?
You see I stretch my arms up to You,
and I can grasp Your hand only because You are reaching out, too.
Help me to be like You—caring for others—
as I wait for You, my God and my Friend.
Change my heart and ways back to Yours.
I trust You. I cling to You.
I need You to put Your arm around me
and guide me back to Your path.
I long for the Day when I see and understand
that these trials and anxieties were but a class in Your school
to teach me Your better Way—
that to be humbled is a better lesson,
taught from Your heart.
I need grace. You do, too. But let me remind you that grace is not generic; He is a Person. And His name is Jesus.
He is our “help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He is “mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17). He is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). He is our “God and Savior” (Titus 2:13). He is able to “save to the uttermost those who draw near to Him” (Hebrews 7:25). If we will but draw near to Him, we can “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
And it is Him – Jesus Christ alone – we are singing to and about tomorrow. I hope you reach out to Him “while He may be found” and “call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
Here are our songs:
- Philippians 2:5-8
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- There Was Jesus
Scripture References/Inspiration for the Song: Colossians 1:15-21, Philippians 2:5-11, Matthew 7:24-27, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 51:7-8, Hebrews 13:8, John 14:6, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-5, Hebrews 11:9-14, Colossians 3:16, Psalm 23, Isaiah 43:2, Revelation 1:8
- Jesus Loves Me
Scripture References/Inspiration for the Song: Luke 15, Luke 19:10, Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 2:1-2, Ezekiel 36:26, Romans 10:11, 1 John 2:28, Psalm 139:7-12, Romans 5:6-8, Romans 8:37-39, Galatians 2:20, Psalm 39:3, Luke 9:23-26, Luke 14:25-33, John 1:4-5, 1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 8:3, Ezekiel 14:5, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 2 Corinthians 5:15, 1 Peter 1:3
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- Jesus Messiah
Scripture References/Inspiration for the Song: 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 2:8, Psalm 136:1, Acts 17:3, Luke 2:11, Philippians 2:9, Job 19:25, Isaiah 44:24, Matthew 1:23, Matthew 28:20, Isaiah 61:1, 1 Timothy 2:6, Philippians 2:10, Luke 22:19-20, Romans 5:5, Matthew 27:51, John 3:16, Romans 5:3-4, 1 Peter 1:3, Jude 25, John 8:12, Isaiah 59:1-2
- Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)
Scripture References/Inspiration for the Song: Matthew 27:51, Revelation 22:16, 1 Peter 4:6, Isaiah 53:1-12, Matthew 20:28, Colossians 2:14, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:45-46, John 19:30, Revelation 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Hosea 13:14, 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 5:9-13, Acts 4:33
- (invitation) Beautifully Broken
Scripture References/Inspiration for the Song: Psalm 51, Psalm 32, Matthew 11:28-30, Romans 6:1-11, Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 57:15, Psalm 31:12, James 4:6, Isaiah 43:18-19, Revelation 21:5, Acts 3:19-21
I hope to see you with us, whether you gather in person, in the parking lot via speaker, or on Facebook or YouTube live!
If gathering in person, please remember that masks are recommended and that we need to remain vigilant in our social distancing measures. Continue to pray for those who are sick – not just our members but all those around the world.