Now that the pandemic has caused us to be isolated longer than most of us expected the spiritual, mental, and emotional challenges have increased. All of us need to ask ourselves, “How am I doing?” and we need to ask others, “How are you doing and can I help?” The struggle is real and the spiritual warfare, especially in our minds, should not be ignored or denied. When discouraged we must strive, and it is not always easy, to know what the Bible says not what we think it says. We begin believing what we are thinking more than what God is saying.
Depression causes us to think wrong and believe the lies that the accuser, Satan, is whispering into our ears and he is always lying. He is working overtime and all the time. He never seems to takes any breaks. The scriptures are clear in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
So, let me ask you, “How are you doing?” The question is not asking if you are reading your Bible, praying, leading, or making sure you are projecting a strong positive image. The question is meant to probe deeper and ask how you are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The pressure is real because you are expected to have the answers and to know what next steps your church should be taking. The frustration is genuine because of the social distancing and staying at home. This is not how we are wired as believers who desire community.
In a recent podcast Pete Scazzero referred to how our emotions are like children on a vacation. He went on to say that you cannot put them in the truck nor should you allow them in the driver’s seat. The reality is that the emotions you have are real and just like children you need to listen to them, take care of them, protect them, and place boundaries around them. Moving past this analogy allow me to say that what we try to do with our emotions many times is bury them alive. That does not work and you must develop a healthy biblical system to deal with them.
Maybe the first step is admitting how you feel. In the Psalms you hear David when he is sad, glad, and mad. While not allowing those emotions to completely control your life (placing them in the driver’s seat) you also must avoid the temptation to totally ignore their reality (lock them in the trunk). Elmer Towns wrote, “Too much Spirit without the Word will lead you to an emotional blowup. Too much Word without the Spirit will cause you to dry up. The right balance between the Word and the Spirit will cause you to grow up.”
The world we are living in has become very negative and cynical. People now love to sit behind an electronic device and spew out whatever crosses their mind at the moment. The atmosphere and environment just seems to be toxic in so many arenas. It is very easy to get sucked into the wrong unbiblical attitudes and become quite discouraged. This flies directly into the face of Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Jacob Smelzer offers these suggestions to pastors because the burden of the job has intensified ten times over recently for an already lonely position. He encourages us by saying, “You’re not alone. You’re not the only one that feels this way. It’s ok to ask for help. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing better than you think you are. You ARE making a difference. You matter to ME.” Please know that you are not alone and you matter to me also. Feel free to contact me and I would love to chat with you and we can spend some time encouraging one another!
J.D. Payne recently wrote these wise words, “Right now, we are all inexperienced. We have never done it this way before. Yet, could this be a moment when God manifests His power in and through our limitations? Could this be a time when He provides the wisdom needed to see around corners (Jas 1:2-7)? Seek His face. Cry out to Him (Matt 7:7-12). Remember Paul’s words: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
Don’t believe the lies of the Devil. You are not alone! There is someone who cares and will listen! Your feelings and emotions do not mean you are unspiritual but rather they are “common” to man and how God created us. Do not believe the lie that you not making a difference because in somebody’s life you are a game changer. You do matter to God, the people in your life, and to me! Give me a call and maybe we can spend some time laughing and crying together!