September 10, 2020
"Where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope." The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened more than just our physical health. The feelings of isolation that come from staying at home, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks have affected our mental health as well. Recent numbers from the Center for Disease Control say that 40% of American adults are now struggling with mental health or substance abuse problems. Some of us are surely included in that staggering statistic. In such a time, how can the Church sow hope where there is despair and faith where there is doubt?
As the Church, we are not doctors, psychologists, or therapists. I can attest, though, that people who serve in those professions can be instruments of God's healing power in our lives. If you are struggling in this season, help is available. There is no shame asking for or receiving the care you need. Last year our church even created a special fund to assist congregants who need mental health care. If you need help, please let us know and we'll do our best to connect you with the right person or services.
Beyond such support, the Church freely offers a message that is meant to sow hope in every heart: the good news of Jesus Christ. We are people who believe in resurrection, and Jesus' resurrection shows us that any circumstance can be changed for the better, any sin can be forgiven, any evil can be overcome. If God can bring life out of death, then God can lift us up out of any pit. We grow in this faith when we hear afresh the message of Christ's victory (Romans 10:17), so I would encourage you to fill your heart and mind with Scriptures that remind you that Jesus is your hope. For years, Psalm 43:5 has been one such verse for me: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God." Another which I offer today as my prayer and blessing for all who read this is Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
To that end, let us pray:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Grace and Peace,