The Upper Room devotional reflection for Tuesday, January 4, 2022 comes to us from Ted Witham of Western Australia, Australia.
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job 1:13-22 NIV
“Holding On to God”
This year I have suffered heavily from anxiety and depression. I never knew how debilitating mental illness could be. My brain and body seemed to stop functioning. I had ceased my regular morning prayer routine and suffered from a sense of God’s absence. Part of living is undergoing such trying times. We don’t want them, but they hit us at the most unexpected moments. It can be easy to respond like Job’s friends and try to explain them away.
Like Job, we wrestle with these experiences and wonder why this is happening to us. I have concluded that they just are. They are not the revenge of God or punishment for our sinfulness or random attacks of a meaningless universe. They are dark nights that show up on bright days. And somehow we find that God was always there in the midst of them. When we experience difficulties, we can remember Job, who discovered that no matter what, God is. God is beyond all time, the Creator and loving Sustainer of all of life. So when we experience the darkness of illness – mental or otherwise – we can sit with two truths: challenges just are, and God is. That knowledge can give us hope to hold on.
Like Ted Witham and many others, I have struggled with depression as we struggle to make it through this pandemic. Certainly, I haven’t suffered nearly as much as Job did and many others around us have. I know that when I lean on God and trust that God holds our future, I can overcome those feelings of sadness, isolation, and distance. I encourage you to consider any moments when God has blessed you with the encouragement to move through sadness and loneliness. Also, I encourage you to thank God for that loving presence in your life.
Loving God, hold us in your embrace when we are struggling to hold on to you and to a joyful life. Amen.
Those suffering with mental illness
Thought for the Day:
Because God loves me, I can hold on.