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hope for churches in stress


There are times, for all of us, when we are running on empty.

Like Elijah, these times can come when we least expect them. The adrenaline “rush” is gone. Our emotional reserves are depleted. We are weak and weary, worried and whiney. We are desperate to get away to a safe and private place (1 Kings 19).

Or like the temple musician, Heman, we feel isolated and alone. Our troubles are overwhelming. We cry out to God, but without any sense of his presence. Our normally resilient perspective collapses into dark laments without hope (Psalm 88).

Like the prophet Jeremiah, we may lapse into despondency. We agonize before God, spilling out our fear, hurt, and anger. In intense, vulnerable conversations we plead for rescue or release (Jeremiah 6:18-7:6; 15:10,15-21; 17:14-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18).

Without expecting a quick and easy remedy, we can take some cues from these biblical predecessors in distress and emptiness.

It is good to cry out in honest lament to the "God of all Comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction" (2 Corinthian 1:3-7). Not by sight, but in faith we can still pray and worship at these times.

We can take prompt, short-term action. Elijah ran into the wilderness where he ate, drank, and slept. Sufficiently restored, he sought the word of the Lord (1 Kings 19:4-9).

God will speak, perhaps only in a whisper, but to the point (1 Kings 19:9-18). He will not indulge our self-pity. He will call us back to the life and work he has ordained for us (Jeremiah 12:5). For longer-term relief, he may direct us to reorder or relinquish some responsibilities (1 Kings 19:15-19).

As we cast our cares on Jesus, he will lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6-7). In the words of S. M. Lockridge, over 100 years ago. . .

“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.”


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