A few months ago, I was in a conversation with a young Pastor about ministry, mentoring and whether or not one had Biblical heroes – those who stood head and shoulders above their contemporaries. After listening to my choices (Caleb in the OT; Epaphras/Barnabas in the NT), it seemed that he became pious by stating, “my only hero is Jesus.” That statement is true enough but misses a larger point – Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly throughout his life; Epaphras labored in prayer for God’s people that they would stand firm and be fully assured in all the will of God; Barnabas knew how to embrace others as an encourager and instill hope and possibilities for others. Any one of my heroes would share that one should never give up but always press on toward the goal and prize (Philippians 3:13-15).
In Our Daily Bread for Thursday - July 19, 2018 the following was shared: “My coworker Tom keeps an 8 X 12 glass cross on his desk. His friend Phil, who like Tom is a cancer survivor, gave it to him to help him look at everything through the cross. The glass cross is a constant reminder of God’s love and good purposes for him. That’s a challenging idea for all believers in Jesus, especially during difficult times…The apostle Paul’s life was certainly an example of having a cross-shaped perspective. He described himself in times of suffering as being persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (Second Corinthians 4:9). He believed that in the hard times, God is at work, achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen (vv. 17–18).”
When Jesus was calling and training disciples, a scribe asked Jesus: "What is the greatest commandment of all?" Jesus replied that there is one standard set for God’s people and His chosen servants. In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 when he answered: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” To love the Lord with “ALL YOUR MIND” is sometimes challenging.
I have personally and recently interacted with two of God’s special people who have been facing the challenge of depression, despondency and moments of involuntary confusion. From firsthand experience, there are moments when lethargy and a sense of uselessness occur. During such times, certain things come to the confused and despondent mind/brain. At such times, one is wise to be reminded of Isaiah 41:9-10, “You are My servant. I have chosen and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness.”
Additionally, a contemporary worship chorus is helpful to review. It is based upon Psalm 119:105 –
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…
When I feel afraid, Think I've lost my way,
Still you're there right beside me. And nothing will I fear
As long as you are near. Please be near me to the end….
I will not forget Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering. Jesus be my guide,
And hold me to your side, I will love you to the end…”
An older Hymn written by Fanny Crosby (1903) shares:
Never be sad or desponding,
If thou hast faith to believe.
Grace, for the duties before thee,
Ask of thy God and receive.
Never give up, never give up,
Never give up to thy sorrows,
Jesus will bid them depart.
Trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord,
Sing when your trials are greatest,
Trust in the Lord and take heart.
If you are downcast, discouraged, despondent or depressed, read and believe Galatians 6:8-9, “The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we DO NOT GIVE UP.”
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.