“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22 ESV)
Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany!
Before Christmas, I walked into our local grocery/retail store. The feeling of warmth greeted me through the sights, sounds and smells of cinnamon pine cones (kinda of a weird combo if you ask me), merchandise on display everywhere and the local middle school band playing Christmas carols. I could have stayed there all afternoon basking in the warmth and Christmas cheer as I sipped my eggnog latte, but I needed to get home to make my famous Chex mix.
Yesterday, about the same time of day, I was at that same store but had the opposite experience. It felt cold (even though it was likely the same temperature as usual). There were no pleasant smells, the store looked empty, and I can’t even recall if they were playing their canned music. Worse yet, they were out of eggnog lattes!
For the first time in months, I went home and took a nap. You might have guessed that I’m starting to feel the holiday blues or seasonal affective disorder. I suggest you re-read my blog from a year ago as I talked about this very subject and provided some good tips. I encourage you to always be aware and present for other people.
Depression and suicide hit harder at this time of year with the First Nation (Indigenous) communities in the North. For the past few weeks, both my wife and I have been encouraging a First Nations youth that often messages us that she’s depressed. Sadly, there have been two recent suicide deaths in First Nation communities in northern B.C. and several in other communities where LAMP serves. Thankfully, my experience with SAD has given me the ability to minister and empathize with others going through similar struggles.
There is good news in the Hope that we have in Jesus! He is deeply sympathetic to our struggles and can do something about our situation. No matter what we’re experiencing or what we are feeling, Jesus has been there. He knew loneliness, suffered great pain and even grieved, but he showed great faith in God’s character and promises. Some of these promises which are sure and steadfast (James 1:5, 1 Cor. 10:13, John 10:28-29, Hebrews 13:5, Phil. 1:6, Luke 12:40) we can celebrate with certainty, but more importantly, we are promised certainty in the God of our circumstances. And that is an anchor for our souls.
Please pray. Know that God hears your prayers, that He will comfort and strengthen us during our times of trial. Pray for others that struggle, that they might come to a deeper understanding of the Hope that only Jesus can offer. Finally, pray that that the Holy Spirit would work in and through each one of us, that we can be there for someone else who is struggling.
In a few weeks (January 22nd - 29th), I plan to make my winter trip up north (a little earlier than normal) to encourage those who are struggling with depression and to organize the spring fling trips scheduled for March. None of this would be possible without the help of generous donors like you to not only help with my travel cost but the other missionaries and those who will be traveling with me this spring. Please pray for safe travels for me (don’t care to drive in snow) and that God would provide me with His strength and the Spirit of wisdom to encourage and assure others of His love.