Pastoral Notes for Sunday, September 8, 2019

“My heart is heavy. My mind is a blur. I can’t really feel anything until all the sudden I feel everything and then break down. I’m not really sure why I’m here. I just need help.”

I penned those words in the notes of my first counseling session. The man who had come to me for help was riddled with depression brought on by a series of traumatic events extending back to childhood. He’d reached a breaking point in his life. You could literally see the pain on his face; it was as if he was wearing it. His shoulders were slumped, his eyes darkened, his appearance disheveled.

Though you wouldn’t think so, this was the look of a man on the cusp of radical transformation. Over the course of the next couple of months, his posture changed, his eyes brightened, and he began tucking in his shirt. In saying that, I don’t mean to suggest, of course, that he was doing anything sinful by slouching or not tucking in his shirt, but, in this case, the fact that these things changed was evidence of a bigger, deeper change. This man was finding renewal in the power of the gospel.

That man would become to me an example. An example I would need to remember when I had my own bout with depression years later. It was fairly low-grade as far as depression goes, but for someone who is typically glass-half-full about life, it was deeply unsettling. Mental fog descended into my psyche. Impatience and frustration replaced kindness and empathy in family and ministry difficulties. Emotional scars that I thought were long gone resurfaced and haunted my thoughts.

Though I’m not sure it was noticeable outwardly, it was inescapable inwardly—I needed help. I needed friends to cry with, counselors to speak with, and pastors to care for my soul. I needed someone to serve me the medicine that I had served others but was unable to receive from myself. Hear me when I say this: I couldn’t do it myself. Even though I knew the answers, I couldn’t “hear” the answers from myself, for myself. I needed someone else to minister them to me. Only then could I be helped.

Take a moment this morning to look around the sanctuary. Many of those around you are suffering in silent. If you’re one of those, take heart. You’re not alone. You’ve come to the right place. Open your heart to the ministry of the gospel today in worship. Fill out a prayer card. Approach a pastor or elder for help. If by grace, you’re walking in a season of spiritual encouragement, give thanks and minister to those around you. Listen for the heartaches and needs in conversations. Pray with and for those around you. If appropriate, remind them of gospel promises. In every way, serve the medicine of grace today.

For if history holds true, you’ll need them to do the same to you very soon.