At this time of year, our expectations of seasonal happiness are captured by classic paintings by Norman Rockwell and other popular artists. While we may love our families, it is doubtful that our gatherings match these illustrations!
For many, such vacation anticipations only amplify their loneliness. The pandemic has not been good for our mental well-being either. A report from the research organization Mental Health America documents an exponential increase in feelings of isolation and anxiety, as well as depression and even suicidal thoughts in the last half of 2020 (Source: https: // mhanational) .org)
Add to that a gloom brought on by diminishing daylight, and this supposedly happy time of year can actually drag us down.
People with strong faith in God can experience times of discouragement and even depression. King David records many such cases in the Psalms. In Psalm 13 David moves from anxiety to hope in a memorable way.
He starts by talking to God about his situation – it’s a good thing to do! He feels agitated, discouraged, defeated.
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long do I have to struggle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13: 1-2 NIV)
Despite his isolation and depression, David recognizes that the only way out is through the Lord himself. Only he can make the changes within that will alter David’s reaction to his situation.
Asking difficult questions of God is a healthy thing to do. First, He is there: God listens and takes care. Second, even though we may not receive the answers we seek, we are talking to the One who knows us and watches over us. The answer is not always in getting what we want, but in knowing Him.
Look at me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I’ll sleep in death,
and my enemy will say: “I conquered him”
and my enemies will rejoice when I fall. (vv 3-4)
David expresses the urgency and cries out to the Lord for an answer. None of us want whatever lets the air out of our balloon have the last word in our lives. Our enemies can be our recurring, persistent, anxious thoughts, as well as that nagging feeling of hopelessness.
Nothing indicates how long David waits between his cry to God and the answer… but God answers!
But I trust your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the praises of the Lord,
because he’s been good to me. (vv 5-6)
In an indecipherable way, God reminds David of his “unwavering love” for him. God also loves each of us personally. We have known this ever since God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to live after our example, then to offer himself as the perfect Substitute for each of us. His death on the cross paid for our sins and for us as sinners. By faith in Jesus, we are forgiven: we now receive new life and the sure hope of eternal life!
Whether or not our holiday circumstances meet anyone’s expectations (especially our own), we have reason to give thanks in the unwavering love of Almighty God. May the joy of knowing Him fill your hearts, now and throughout the year.
Don Baumann is an outreach pastor at Hilltop Community Church