This house of God is open for you; the Lord has been waiting to see you come home.
A place to leave behind the past, to have the
fullness of the present,
and to look forward to the bright future.
When the Psalmist wrote, “O my God, my soul is cast down within me” (Ps. 42:6), it was evident that things weren’t going very well in his life. Perhaps the enemy was close on his heels. I’ve found that if I’m feeling down, I can say, like that same Psalmist said a few verses later, “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” In spite of appearances, he trusted God beyond anything else.
Prayer to our all-powerful Creator can dispel depressed and defeated feelings quickly and effectively. Whether we feel cut off from God or our focus on our own problems fills us with darkness, prayer to God, who loves each of us as His dear children, can release fresh hope and encouragement. God is as close to us as He was to the Psalmist, to help us leap over hurdles. And the psalms are universal – speaking today as they did thousands of years ago, to humanity’s hunger for a God of comfort.
The psalms are filled with poignant moments of sorrow, lament, and even bleakness. Right on the heels of those moments – as in Psalm 42 – there is often confident celebration, praise, and affirmation of the power, presence, ability, and supremacy of God to overcome all suffering and limitation. The psalms declare that no one is ever apart from God’s goodness and love.
The 23rd Psalm says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” This deep connection with God – especially in overwhelming moments – is right now available for each of us as we turn to receive this gift with gratitude and openness.
We must never forget, as Scripture reveals, that we are created in the image of God. However, the Divine nature was best expressed in Jesus Christ, who threw upon mortals the true reflection of God and lifted our lives higher than our poor thoughts would allow – thoughts which presented humankind as fallen, sick, broken, and dying.
The Divine nature of man – meaning every man, woman, and child – is indeed the image and likeness of God. In truth, it is the only identity we have. Being aware of this enables us to see that limited mortal concepts, such as feeling down about life, always have been false and are false now, because they are not concepts from God. They are not authorized by God and have no staying power or ability to direct our thoughts or decisions.
We truly are artists, working at various forms, molding and chiseling thought. What is the model before our mortal minds? Is it imperfection, sorrow, lack or suffering? Do we look to our limited abilities (individually or collectively) for our salvation? Rather, we must put on the mind of Christ or we shall never carve out our thoughts in grand and noble lives. Depressing or discouraging thought-models don’t constitute who we are. Because the divine nature includes permanent spiritual models of harmony, joy, expectancy, and constancy, poor thought-models can vanish. Looking toward and living consistently with spiritual ideals gives us dominion over the ups and downs of life.
Nevertheless, looking to spiritual ideals doesn’t mean ignoring the human situation or hoping it will just go away. It’s really a kind of prayer that helps change our view from self-absorption and limitation to a willingness to turn to the ever-present power of the Divine Will. Then problems don’t appear so impressive and predominant.
Light-hearted expectancy of good becomes increasingly more real and substantial than whatever is confronting us. Indeed, a hopeful heart knows that good is here and expects to see it.
This spiritual perspective enables us to “carve out” more progressive conditions. If the difficult situation facing us doesn’t change immediately, a growing patience, conviction, and refusal to succumb to discouragement will brighten the path and bring comfort.
God, our loving Father, continuously gives us improved, spiritual models, all based upon our inseparable relationship to Him. These good models are established in this relationship and, through Christ, are permanently available.
In His Light,
Bishop Raymond Contois