ďI donít know if I can go on like this any longer. Iím trying to keep the faith, but things just get harder. Maybe itís a test, but Iíve got to tell you, sis, this is one test Iím tired of taking. Perhaps God keeps giving it because I keep failing, I donít know. All I know is how weary I am.Ē
Dissolving in sobs, I wept into the receiver. Two weeks remained before Christmas, and all our bills were overdue, there was little food in the house, and not a single Christmas present had been purchased for our children. This season of ďcelebrationĒ served only as a catalyst for my depression. There was, in my mind, precious little reasons to rejoice.
I had heard so many empty platitudes lately; mostly from other Christians, that I felt like screaming. If one more righteous soul told me to count my blessings, I was going to physically hurt them. If one more sister wanted to pray with me, or lay hands on me for an increase in faith, I was going to walk out the doors, and never come back.
I was so irate. I didnít need someone to pat me on the back; I needed someone to see the need and assist in filling it. Anger simmered in my heart, along with a deep remorse. I felt so shamed for thinking ill of others, and for the hopelessness I felt. Perhaps they were right, and my faith was simply too weak. Despair, hopelessness, anger and guilt all warred for control.
Such was my state of mind the day I called my sister. As if I were a bottle on which the cork had been popped, all my pent up emotions came bubbling up and poured out, overwhelming even me in their intensity. As I sat, sobbing, I was not only baring my soul to her, but to God.
ďMary,Ē Kathy said, ďYou know, itís okay to be weak. God didnít create you as some sort of superhuman who has to constantly be strong. Itís even okay if you feel the need for some sort of medical assistance to overcome this depression. The church puts such a stigma on that sometimes, making people feel guilty, as if they donít have enough faith to overcome it on their own, which only adds to their burdens. I also understand your anger. Iíve been on the receiving end of platitudes before, and we are called to meet the need, not just send someone on their way with a pat and a prayer.Ē
ďOne thing I want you to understand, though. I know your deepest despair comes from being worried about providing for the kids. As a mother, I do understand that longing. However, the biggest gift that you can give your children is spiritual. How you and Jerry persevere will influence how they handle the hard times that arise in their future. Seeing that you are grounded in God and that you are not tossed about on storm swept seas is the greatest gift that you can give your kids. Itís not something you can wrap up, but itís lasting.Ē
We talked a little longer, and after hanging up, I felt an enormous release. I still didnít know how the needs were going to be met, but I had a renewed faith in God. That week, two anonymous cards arrived with cash enclosed, and notes that spoke of Godís direction. The total was enough to catch up on our overdue house payment, and to buy groceries.
Three nights later, as I entered the sanctuary with my children to watch the annual Christmas play, I was stopped by a cast member. Taking me by the hand, she pressed something into my palm. I was overcome to see a substantial roll of bills; tens, twenties, fifties, and fives. It totaled over two hundred fifty dollars, a collection taken up by those I had privately labeled Pharisees. Amazed, I lifted my gaze, and above her ridiculous shepherd costume of robe and beard, I met the eyes of Jesus. He not only meets our needs, He gives us the desire of our hearts. His promises are yes, and amen.
Therefore I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
The Lord will be a light unto me.