Hello, my name is Desperate, and I’m dialing from the depths of despair!
“Through God’s loving-kindness, God has given us this job to do. So, we do not give up. We have put away all things that are done in secret and in shame. We do not play with the Word of God or use it in a false way. Because we are telling the truth, we want your hearts to listen to us. God knows our desires.” – 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (adapted)
Though appreciating Paul’s words to the Corinthians, I still find myself asking the question of what to do you when you’re depressed, and you get down on your knees to pray, only to get up still depressed. What do I do when I’m constantly pressed on every side, persecuted, knocked down, perplexed, and in the depths of despair?
Over the past year during staff check-ins with my Health & Wholeness Advocacy family of the UCC National Setting, I have watched those I care about face the challenges of life while dialing from the depths of despair. To help shoulder the pain we’ve offered words of comfort, joined each other in tears, prayed prayers of hopes, and shared messages offering our love and support to one another. Yet, with all the love and support we still found ourselves in the midst of, coming through or out of the storm only to face yet another.
In searching for answers, the Spirit directed me to look at the spider for a practical demonstration of hope through the vicissitudes of life. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica and have become established in nearly every habitat. The spider – much like our challenges – is no respecter of persons nor place. It sets up camp wherever and whenever it wants.
When its web is being swatted, demolished, or even knocked for a loop, the spider in free fall will continue to produce silk while in the depths of despair. The spider knows that, if it can stay connected, there’s hope for a rebuild. Isaiah testified: “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.’” (Isaiah 43:19, adapted) Every morning, God’s river of mercies flows fresh into us.
And just like that my answer became clearer: I am to follow the example of the spider. Like the spider, I need to stay connected and continue to produce the substance that connects me to the Source and Giver of life. So, what’s the substance? The substance is my faith, and my faith is my evidence of those things that I’m hoping for.
Before the foundations of the earth God created me and knew everything that I would face even before I would experience them and has predicted a way of escape or time of delivery. God never called me to a place that hasn’t been visited by God. Life happens, situations come, our bodies wear out. If I continue to press toward God, my spirit will grow in strength. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6, excerpted)
Hold on Sarah, Amy, Rhina, Erica, Andrea and Mike. Hold on, my UCC family, the things we face today are getting us ready for the great things God is going to give us in the forever.
Arthur Butler is the Framework for Dialogue National Coordinator for the United Church of Christ.