Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12, verse 3.
I become easily depressed. It doesn’t take much to get me down, and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m in a funk even when I am. Sometimes my wife will ask me “what’s wrong” and I didn’t even realize I was showing a face that showed anything was bothering me. Sometimes, depression seems like walking in a dark forest, wandering down a path you’ve wandered before and not knowing how you’ll get out alive.
And then I read a verse like this one. I’ll admit: sometimes these words seem like just trite. In a way they seem like they aren’t enough to snap me out of my depression. They’re almost a euphemism. When I get to feeling like that, it’s time to step back and look at the forest for the trees. Looking at just the one verse, it’s a tree. Jesus lived and died a tough life and death. So what? What about me. How do I get around this big tree? It’s so much bigger than me, and it’s so cold in here, and dark, and I’ll admit I sometimes still get scared of the dark.
Back up a few steps…look at a few trees together…
Consider Him. Really, truly consider Him. He didn’t deserve the cross. We of the twenty-first century First World focus on “fair.” “It isn’t fair” are some of our favorite words, especially when we’re depressed. Have you considered it wasn’t fair for Jesus to give up the beautiful perfection of heaven to come here and live? Have you considered how He felt sometimes, knowing He was God but living among people openly hostile to Him (some of whom were even His closest friends)? Have you considered how terrified, anguished and in pure agony he felt being tortured to death by people He could extinguish with just a thought? None of that seems very fair.
On your hardest days, have you or I ever truly considered the man Jesus living here among us, let alone the man Jesus living now at the right hand of God the Father?
Back up a few steps more…there are a few more trees, a few more things to consider…
Consider Jesus losing heart. He did, you know. That last night of His life, in Gethsemene, He was scared to death. He wanted anything but the cross, anything but the torment of being ripped away from God while fully being God in the moment. Only He could understand the physical and spiritual agony of it and it terrified Him completely. What He wanted more was to submit to His Father, and that made all the difference in the world. Literally. And consider when He wept. He did, you know. He wept – crying, inconsolable grief – when His friend, Lazarus died. Have you ever cried because someone you loved died? Jesus did, and He was God.
Keep backing up a few more steps…it’s starting to look like the beginning of a forest…
Consider that the God-man who didn’t deserve the cross, who didn’t deserve the torture, who fully experienced all the emotional agony that you or I could know lived that extraordinary life so that you could live your ordinary life by taking your lead from Him. It’s easy to lose heart in this world. It’s easy to get down when really tough things plague you. Often you don’t do anything and still the blues hit you. Sometimes that depression can seem like a spinning weight, pulling you down into emotional black water that you just can’t seem to swim out of. Consider, then, that you aren’t alone in it. At your very toughest moment, when every other human deserts you and your thoughts seem to close in on you like walls, Jesus is there. He’s in your heart; He’s in your conscience. He beckons you to put hope in Him, hope being a promise and not just some wish. He listens, He conveys peace to you, He gets you through the moment. Sometimes, when every day seems piled high with interminable moments, well, sometimes the first step on the road back to peace is realizing Jesus is there with us.
Sometimes there’s a tree planted in front of you, but when you and your Lord back up a few steps, you realize He’s with you there in the forest. And that a forest is just a bunch of trees. It’s dark there in the forest, but it doesn’t have to be. Hold onto His Hand and consider Him. He’s walked around a few trees in His time. He’s been in the dark forest, and wherever He is, there’s light. Hold onto that light; hold Him by the hand, and walk forward through the forest passing one tree at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be on a different path to something and some place better. Sometimes, that’s a great place to start.
For further reading: Galatians 6:9, Revelation 2:3.
My Lord, You sustain me in the toughest times. You guide me, You forgive me, You uphold me. When I consider You, I I can only feel awesome humble thankfulness.