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Present Darkness

04.20.17 | Devotional | by Jeremy Wilson

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    In studying for a sermon on depression and anxiety, I came across a great insight: the book of Psalms contains many songs of lament, but the trend of modern church music (and services in general) has largely been focused on the sunny side of life.

    We definitely have good reason to emphasize the joy, hope, love, etc. that are found in Christ and granted to us by grace through faith, but our silence on the dark realities of fallen humans in a broken world is having detrimental effects, especially on those who suffer from despair, depression, and anxiety.

    The good intention of churches has been to encourage those who are down by reminding them to look up. However, to those who struggle greatly with feeling "up" (even when looking up), never mentioning how discouraging the broken world is seems disingenuous. Scripture’s transparency on the lows of life are a testament to its credibility. The realities of what it means to be human are on display. To know that God-fearing, faithful people (prophets, kings, and apostles even!) struggled with despair, fear, and doubt is greatly validating for people today who are trying to reconcile their faith walk with their mental health battles. They’ve too often heard that if they had enough faith, they wouldn’t have the struggles they have. They, more than likely, have had Romans 8:28 quoted (or paraphrased) to them ad nauseam: “This is for your good!”

    The key to anyone wanting to claim or apply Romans 8:28 to their lives is to read the verse in light of Romans 8:29: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

    Our good is Christlikeness. Fellowship with Christ on this side of glory contains suffering and submission, not just happy, fun times. So, yes, God is working anxiety and depression for our good, but not as a means to a happy life if we’ll just "name it and claim it." Rather, we have the opportunity to become more like Jesus, our ultimate good, if we respond to trials in faith, believing that our future glory far surpasses our current struggles.

    This honesty is needed from the church. We need to acknowledge the depth and range of human suffering and the fact that we live in a broken world as fallen humans. And we should admit that those things add up to sad realities and real reasons to be discouraged, but remind one another there is a promise from God to make all things new.