from our Ministers Joseph & Peter
THE POWER OF HOPE Rev Peter Brown 09.10.21
One of the most riveting and hope filled stories in the Bible
is the portrayal of the life of Elijah. He
is one of the pioneers of faith who earned his place in the spiritual hall of fame
for his fortitude, resilience, courage, and conviction when the spiritual tide
was low. There is a critical aspect of
this superhero’s story that we shy away from that is vital for our theological
reflections as it is crucial and indispensable for our spiritual journey.
James made an insightful comment when he declared: “Elijah
was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he
prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James
5:17-18). Let us resist viewing this
with gasps of “wide eyed” intimidation and instead grasp that he was an
ordinary human being who did extraordinary deeds because he trusted God. Yet this man, known for his
extraordinary feats and accomplishments, had moments when he had to face his fear,
frailty, and failure.
One of the most remarkable episodes from Elijah’s life that I
want to reflect on covers the period of his solitude and struggle with depression.
This is a tale not of woe but of hope. It is a story of light in the midst of our
darkness that speaks of the power of God’s redeeming grace to rescue, restore, and
resource us in our struggle with fear, depression, and anxiety.
This is also a
story about the elephant in the room – the elephant of mental health. Depression is the number one health issue in the world today, yet
those who suffer are still sometimes stigmatized and marginalized — especially
followers of Jesus. Many assume God's
peace, power, and protection should prevent us from ever feeling anxious,
depressed, and afraid. Elijah's life shows
us that everyone is susceptible to depression. Even when we are walking closely with God, we
can still stumble and get lost in the wilderness of tangled emotions. But we
don't have to stay there, because we serve a God who meets us in the
darkness. There is hope in the darkness of depression. The Church should be a community of healing where
oases of safe places are created for those with wounded emotions and troubled
minds to find space where they can journey towards wholeness, find comfort and
help, and tools to resource them to move forward. We urgently need to create an environment where
we can engage in shame-free conversations about mental health and where people are
equipped to support loved ones while practicing self-care.
The acclaimed musical artist Michelle Williams shared her intimate
and powerful story about her battle with depression even in the midst of
enormous fame and success. This led her
to find her true calling as an advocate for mental health — especially her own.
As a member of Destiny's Child, one of the top female groups of
all time, she felt blessed. After the
group disbanded, she continued to create bestselling albums, appear on
television shows, and star in theatre productions. Though she had always struggled with low
moods, in 2018 her depression deepened, and when she found herself planning her
own funeral, she checked herself into a treatment facility. There she found the help she needed to live
out the incredible story God was writing for her life. Her story is a
reminder to us that we are not alone.
Hope starts now.
To those who are struggling these stories are a reminder that God
uses wilderness experiences to prepare His children – including Jesus – for His
greater purpose and to work miracles inside our souls.
We serve a God of hope, and we are called to proclaim a gospel of
hope. My prayer is that our hopes, not
our hurts, will shape our future. As
Anne Frank so wisely said, “Where there is hope…there is life.” “May
the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that
you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Every blessing in Christ Jesus,