1. It’s not about having faith in yourself or a general sense that things will work out ok. It’s about a concrete faith in the living Lord Jesus and the rock-solid promise that He will finish what He has started.
2. Having this faith does not mean you always feel it. You can love and trust the Lord but still be mired in deep depression. You can cling to His promises and still have doubts. What you feel is NOT who you are. You died and were raised with Jesus. Fact – not feeling.
3. Another fact: feelings matter, (even if they’re not always trustworthy). They’re part of who God has made us and all of them (even the “bad” ones) are good. Anger can be righteous. Anxiety can become compassion. Fear can be prudence. And even if they’re completely unrighteous, we shouldn’t deny their existence either. We listen to them, weep or laugh at them as appropriate and most of all we speak to them with Bible truths and pray them to a Father who wants a heart to heart.
4. Don’t go it alone. The Holy Spirit is not our wing-man, on standby for absolute emergencies. He’s taken up permanent residence in us: because we need Him for every breath. All the stuff that’s whirring round your head and doesn’t know where to go? Pray it. The boiler, the refugee crisis, the bills, the dog. Whether it’s a leisurely four-course chat or an espresso “help!” He gift wraps our words and carries them straight to the top.
5. Don’t go it alone. Church is family. It doesn’t matter if you’re introvert or extrovert; we’re made to depend on one other – and there are no exceptions, (me and you included!). If your temptation is to carry everyone else, then allow yourself to be carried. But remember that even (and especially) in our suffering, we can bless others too. That doesn’t mean signing up for every rota when you’re feeling burnt out. It does mean remembering that as Jesus comforts us, we comfort others – and part of how He redeems these bad times is by putting you with others who are facing the same things.
6. Which brings us to no.6: you are not alone, (yes a variation on 4+5 but if you’re like me, you need to hear it from different angles). Tempted to despair? Jesus cried, “why have you abandoned me?” Feeling bullied and persecuted? He was hounded to a cross. Estranged from your family and loved ones? His own town rejected Him. Desperate and overwhelmed? He cried out, “is there any other way?” Whatever our struggle, He gets it. He does not condemn us. He gently leads us out. This doesn’t mean that our circumstances will change, (though they might). It does mean that He’ll give us strength to stand up under them.
7. “Everything” does not need to happen Immediately. You don’t have to turn your life around when you’re struggling to get out of bed. You don’t have to run an empire when washing your hair overwhelms you. The corporate world will keep turning. The washing and the shopping and the emails can wait. The perfect you? Forget it. Do what you can with now and know that this is enough.
8. God’s not about replacing us, but renewing what’s there. So don’t you dare despise yourself. Hate your sin, sure, but not yourself. And don’t put limits on what He can see and what He can do. “Impossible? Miraculous?” Absolutely. That’s what He does. That’s what He’s doing. (Whether you feel it or not!)