Pastor’s Desk March 16th

Scripture Passage:  “Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad.”  Proverbs 12:25 

     “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”  Proverbs 15:13    “A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22    “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that his weary: he wakes morning by morning, he wakes mine ear to hear as the learned.”  Isaiah 50:4 

Dear Friends,

     I have always been amazed how the Lord sends a passage of Scripture at just the right time to speak to a need in my life and to give an encouraging word.  It has been so long since my heart has been out from under a heavy load,  that I had almost forgotten how to smile.  The last four months have been extremely difficult.  When asked how I am doing, I have replied with all sincerity and truth that I am extremely weary.  I have gone from one crisis to another with personal sickness mixed in.  It is true that a person’s physical well- being is always tied to their emotional health also.  When I came across this passage of Scripture today, it spoke directly to my heart.  The word heaviness is a perfect description of how I feel.  Other translations use the word anxiety or worry, but the word heaviness describes my heart to a T.  When I go to the dentist, they place a heavy lead blanket over me to take x-rays of my teeth.  That is exactly what my heart feels like.  In the Lil Abner cartoon by Al Capp, Joe Btfsplk walks around with a black rain cloud hanging over his head all the time.  If we are not careful, we become the fictional character of Joe Btfsplk in reality and the warmth of the “Sonshine” becomes blocked by hanging clouds of despair. 

     Everyone has periodic moments of melancholy. A normal person “snaps out of it,” in a few hours or days.  Others like Elijah, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Spurgeon, and Winston Churchill battled with it for months or years at a time.  Elijah fled from Jezebel into the wilderness where he took to sleeping a lot, eating very little and asking God to take his life.  Abraham Lincoln once said he had enough melancholy if it were dispersed would be enough to curse the whole world.  Charles Spurgeon suffered with gout that would flair up and hinder his ministry.  His biography states there were times he suffered depression to the point he would be absent his pulpit for weeks at a time.  Winston Churchill served Great Briton in one of the most terrible times of modern day history.  The decisions he made carried life and death consequences that often affected his moods and emotional health.  By his own account he called these times of depression as an encounter with “the black dog.”  The point I am trying to make is all these men were great leaders who were far from Supermen clothed in Kryptonite.  They all suffered with the “heaviness” the responsibility of their positions produced.

     I have often contemplated why God has allowed certain things to happen in my life.  I have suffered through depression brought on by crisis situations.  I have had anxiety/panic attacks without anyone knowing they were taking place.  I have periods of heaviness of the heart that take place for months at a time with no relief.  I often blame it on my age and the fact that I have always been under pressure.  Maybe I am not as emotionally strong as I once was.  The passage of Scripture from Isaiah 50:4 also spoke to my heart today and gave it all some sense of purpose.  “The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned that I may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”  God says he has allowed me to go through these things that I may be able to speak to someone else going through the same things with empathy.  Until you have lived through melancholy, depression, and panic attacks, you can sympathize with others but you cannot empathize.  I do not know how many times in the last nineteen years I have looked someone in the eye and said, “I know what you’re going through.”  It never fixes the problem but it creates a comradery of souls that do not suffer alone. 

In Christ,

Pastor Johnny