No doubt about it—our nation is going through some difficult times with little relief in sight. Many Americans are feeling the pinch, especially in the pocketbook. Sure, there are some folks who have the financial means to treat inflation and supply chain issues like speed bumps. No big deal. But they don’t constitute the much larger group of Americans who are struggling as the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons approach.
Are you discouraged about your present circumstances and fearful about the future? Does it feel like your day-to-day life is reduced to putting one foot in front of the other and trying to survive? Have your finances made it a challenge just to put food on the table, keep enough gas in your car, and pay the rent, all the while struggling to avoid even deeper debt? Where’s your hope?
Several of my friends are experiencing terrible times—stage four cancer, life-threatening diabetes, a spouse with worsening dementia, loss of a job, and the recent passing of loved ones as they head into the holiday season. If any of this hits home, my heart goes out to you. I won’t be foolish enough to say I know how you feel. I can only imagine. I’m guessing that you’re searching for relief, a chance to hit the pause button long enough to catch your breath and to clear your head as you search for answers. Maybe you’re on the lookout for someone who cares and who can help you. So far, there have been no sightings. Perhaps the needle on your hope tank is fast approaching empty.
What if I told you that I have a friend who fits that description—perfectly? Quite possibly you’ve never met him, or if you did you really didn’t get to know him. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you straight up that I’m talking about Jesus. Yes, you’ve seen his name on church marquees. More than once, you’ve probably had someone try to give you a tract about him, or awkwardly inject him into a conversation. But I can promise you, the countless friends who do know him have been in situations just like yours. The details of their pain may have been different from yours, but their feelings mirrored what you may be experiencing—tough times, depression, and possibly even suicidal thoughts. No answers on the horizon. Hope appeared to be missing in action.
Jesus gave them hope and a whole lot more. It has been wonderful to see these folks smile because they’ve found a new perspective on life. Even those who had struggled with suicidal thoughts now know that God loves them. They know that they are valuable in his eyes and that their lives have purpose.
If you would like to meet Jesus, and connect with some other wonderful people who are dealing with life just like you, why don’t you plan to attend a church near you this coming Sunday? Week after week my wife and I leave our church service encouraged and full of hope—even during times when we’re knee-deep in painful challenges. Our friends at church love and accept us. They pray with us about the mud and grit of life. Without exaggeration, they are family. And all of us have a common friend who gave each of us this personal invitation:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).