These have been weary days. Seeing the unemployment rate rise, protests over the killing of George Floyd, and all the instabilities of this year has me worrying about the future. Friends and family have lost jobs or have had their hours cut. I have no idea what is going to happen.
Then a thought came to me. I actually do know what is going to happen. God has made promises. He has promised to renew the world. He has promised to rule and reign over evil and death. He has promised to end injustice. He has promised to change my heart, to draw me close, to make life worth living, and to meet my needs even when I don’t know what they are.
Years ago, my wife and I were going through an incredible challenge. I had graduated from seminary. Many of my friends were moving on to pastor churches. My wife had suffered a miscarriage. I had no job, no plans, no sense of the future, and I was dealing with a difficult bout of depression. Every morning I would drag myself out of bed, force myself to search for a job, and then spend a couple of hours reading the Bible just because I didn’t know what else to do. I knew that I had to keep busy to deal with the depression. I knew that if I sat for too long and did nothing, I would find myself overcome with hopelessness.
At the time, I couldn’t think clearly enough to do more. Depression had snuck up on me and I was completely unprepared. My face hurt. I felt exhausted. I would randomly cry. It felt as if all hope had died. My body was rebelling against my mind and my brain was leading the charge. Reading the Bible helped a little. It was familiar. It certainly didn’t work like magic and fix my problem, but it did help me to focus and to think.
At some point in those dark days, my wife and I sat down and figured out what was happening so that I could begin get help. She began by reminding me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6. In Matthew 6 Jesus said,
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?”or “What shall we drink?”or “What shall we wear?”For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25—26 and 31—33)
I felt like a boxer receiving a beating against the ropes. Depression was life’s low blow, an illegal tactic meant to reduce me to a helpless victim. But God was the referee. He called foul and entered into separate depression from me just enough for me to catch my breath and process what was happening. Jesus’ words reoriented my perspective and gave me strength to act. Reading Jesus’ promise that the Father will provide for me needs helped. It gave me the strength to pursue the very means God put before me to help me through the depression: medical professionals, a church, family and friends. Without a sense of hope, I don’t know if I would have pursued help. But God’s word came into my situation, exposed my pain and struggle, revealed my needs, and gave me hope. It was enough.
Right now, you might be reading this and struggling. You might be losing hope, but you need to know this: Right in the middle of your situation God cares. God has made promises and God will accomplish his promises.
In Matthew 6, God doesn’t promise an easy life. God doesn’t promise riches and comfort. God doesn’t promise 70 healthy years. God didn’t keep martyrs from the fires or saints off lynching trees. God didn’t save Martin Luther King Jr. from assassination. But God has still promised to meet our needs, needs that can go unnoticed–the need for mercy, the need for peace of mind, the need for strength to fight injustice, the need for hope to awake to a new day.
Jesus has promised that if you seek God’s kingdom and God’s justice, you will receive all that you need, not because God redefines all of your needs or doesn’t care about your physical needs, but because the kingdom of God in its fulness will meet your felt and unfelt needs, all your needs–emotional, psychological, physical, relational, all of it. And right now, this promise can give you hope and confidence that God cares today, and that God will provide for your temporary needs in this temporary situation before the fullness of his kingdom comes. Right now, hold on to this: God accomplishes what he promises.