A well-known speaker started off his seminar one day by holding up a $50 note. In the room of 200 people, he asked, Who would like this $50 note? Hands started going up.
He said, I am going to give the $50 to one of you, but first, let me do this. He started to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, Who still wants it? Still the hands were in the air. Well—what if I do this? And he dropped it on the ground and began to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it back up, now crumpled and dirty. Now who still wants it? Still the hands went into the air.
My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value at all! It was still worth $50, regardless of what had happened to it. He then came to the point of his object lesson:
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened, or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless.
I like that story very much because it brings hope and encouragement to each of us, regardless of who we are, of what big mistakes we may have made in life. The Bible says in Psalm 34:18 (GNT): “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope”. What a great encouragement.
When We Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture
After World War II, French doctors came up with a name for a terrible disease—not a physical disease, but a mental and emotional sickness that affected prisoners of war in camps. They called it ‘barbed-wire sickness’. One of its symptoms was an appalling sense of futility and meaningless. What was the point of going on when there was no future? How could they escape? No matter what kind of camp activities were organised nothing could quite banish from the mind the awareness of the barbed-wire enclosure, the feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation. Those behind the barbed wire lost hope. They couldn’t see anything beautiful and good in their lives any more.
Following the announcement of John Lennon’s tragic shooting death in December 1980, fans around the world sent his widow, Yoko Ono, thousands of sympathy messages each day. Lennon’s widow said some of the mail worried her because it was written in such despair. And within hours of Lennon’s death newspapers reported that two fans committed suicide. His death caused people to lose all hope and they were unable to see past their depression. They lost sight of the bigger picture.
It’s true that everyone gets depressed at some time. It’s interesting to observe how people become depressed over some things, while another person facing the same set of circumstances is able to cope and rise above what could easily get them down. It’s also interesting to see how being depressed and discouraged distorts our view of reality. Perhaps that’s happened to you recently.
The Lord Is Near
At the time you’re discouraged and depressed it may seem that you are the only one who has these problems and burdens—and that no one has ever felt the way you do. For example, there are those times when you lie awake at night worried and upset about something that happened during the day, or how someone had upset you. Everything goes out of focus, you lose perspective as this problem looms so large in your life and it becomes all-consuming. It seems worse at night—doesn’t it?—when you can’t sleep.
I know it’s easy to say, but when we are in the middle of some discouraging events and we feel miserable, we should remember that we are only looking at a small part of the picture. Often it is when we look back that we see that we had a false view of reality. Things weren’t that bad at all. They just seemed that way. God is there when everything else may be taken away. He has promised to stand by us through days of plenty and the days when we lose everything—when friends leave, when money is lost, when families fall apart. Jesus is not a fair-weather friend who is by your side only during the happy times. He has promised to stand with you through the good and bad, even when your moods lead you to say and do things you would not normally do.
Your moods and feelings make no difference to his love. Trust God to help you when you are discouraged and depressed. The Psalmist got it right when he said, “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.” Talk it over with God. Tell him your problems, tell him your mistakes, your hurts, your disappointments, your loneliness, your frustration, your disappointments that have caused you to feel so low.
And even if you feel so low that you feel you can’t even do that, remember God will always be there with his help and ready to listen when you are ready to go to him. “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged”. (Psalm 34:18 – GNT)
© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Caboolture – 20 August, 2006