Hope and Freedom from the Stranglehold of Despondency

Oct. 10, 2014 Trillia Newbell

Session Transcript

I want to go ahead and tell you something real quick. I am unfortunately a little sick. And I got up this morning and I thought, Okay, Lord, talking about relying on You in despondency? I get it.

So today, I am not despondent, but I am relying on the Lord. So if I start sneezing or coughing, that is why. I have a little cold.

And I'm glad that Lindsey, in her prayer, she ended it by encouraging you guys that it's not taboo. So I want to start there. I'm going to say that again. But I want to start there just so you can go ahead and prepare your heart.

If you are in here and you resonate with what I'm about to share. . . I'm about to give some descriptions of what it might look like to be despondent or depressed, which I'm going to tell you why these things are different, actually.

And if that's you, I don't want you to feel shame. And today it's going to be all about the gospel and good news. And so if that's you, you have freedom not to be shamed or feel shame, but to receive grace.

And so that's my heart for you. My hope is that we would know that we don't have to put on a face or put on a mask-that we can be real with one another and talk about some hard, hard things.

So I know Lindsey prayed, but I always like to pray before I begin. So if you don't mind to pray again with me, I'd love it.

Lord, thank You so much for today. God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your wisdom that's in Scripture. Thank You that You are our Father and that You are a Father who relates to us, that You, Jesus, have been tempted in every way but are without sin. And that You understand, as we're going to learn today-You really understand our weakness. You sat right before the cross and wept. You asked even the Lord to take it from You, but yet You died for us and right now, You are interceding for us. So God, thank You for that. Thank You for that. And so, Lord, I pray for each woman here. You know what their situation is, their circumstance, their heart, their feelings-You know it all. You know, and God, I pray that You would meet them. And I pray that You would fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me wisdom and words to say, gentleness and love, and compassion and courage. So Lord, I pray that You would do this. In Jesus' Name, amen.

I'm going to give you two scenarios. This might be you or this might be a friend or this could be a relative.

Scenario One: The sky is blue outside. The grass is green, trees are blowing, everything's fine. You're fed every day. Circumstances are absolutely nothing's rocking, everything is pretty much fine, and yet you're troubled. You're troubled within you. You wake up and can't fight this feeling of emptiness, loneliness, and sorrow. You just can't shake it. That could be someone in this room. Scenario One.

Scenario Two: For others of you, you've experienced trauma, have troubled marriages, lost a loved one, something has happened, or you've experienced some trial or suffering and can't seem to pull through. The same feelings of emptiness and loneliness and sorrow are filling your days. This could be you or this could be a friend or relative. You could be experiencing what is depression or despondency.

In 2011, NPR reported on the rise of depression and anxiety within college students. The report stated that the number of students on medicines increased more than 10 percent over the last ten years. And the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in every ten people-these are adults in the U.S.-reports struggling to doctors with depression.

Some behaviors that researchers use to determine it are distancing themselves from friends; losing interest in things they once enjoyed doing; becoming irritable or angry; having outbursts toward people who are close to them; experiencing changes in eating or sleeping (you're insomniac or you sleep all the time); having unexplainable episodes of tearfulness, just weepy and crying a lot. These are some of the potentials.

So I want to pause and ask, and this is just for you. Is this something that you're experiencing? Those symptoms that are mentioned are symptoms that the Center of Disease Control lists. But the Council for Biblical Counseling, this is how they explain it. So we're going to turn obviously to the Word, and this is how they explain it.

You have no hope, even though Scripture, God's words to you, offers hope on almost every page." Here's just one example: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

So you hear something like Lamentations 3:21-23, and you're like, No way could that apply to me.

You think life is meaningless, even though you are a servant of the King and every small step of obedience resonates throughout eternity. This is God's purpose for you today, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor circumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Gal. 5:6).

For you, everything is meaningless. This could be you. This could be someone you know or someone you might know soon or while you're here.

You think God doesn't care. Even though Scripture makes it clear that we run from God, not vice versa.

You think, There's no way. God does not care about me. He wouldn't have done that. Why would He care?

In other words, in many areas of life, you simply do not believe what God says.

This psalmist understood, and we're going to find out real soon that Jesus understood. Psalm 43:5: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

Before I go on, this talk is not about clinical depression. It is about despondency-a dark night of the soul; being sorrowful; having episodes of sorrow. But if you feel like, "No, I actually think I might have a clinically depressed state or that's where I'm having a mental illness of depression," may I urge you not to fear and to seek counsel.

And if you are just despondent, I also say seek counsel. Seek counsel from a biblical counselor or a pastor or someone like a pastor. I want you to seek the help that you need. So I want you to hear this, but I don't want you to just hear this, if that's you.

Though despondency can look like depression, I don't believe they are the same. I think despondency can be a season. And so that's why I want to make that distinction before we move on.

I'm going to share a little bit about my own journey. I'm going to start with a pretty sad story. It was unexpected, yet swift and yet seemed like an eternity. The phone rang. And it was my sis. And my sis picked up the phone, and she told me that my oldest sister was in the hospital. I didn't think much about it because my oldest sister (this was two years ago) had been sick off and on. And so I just told my husband, "Hey, Alicia (that's her name) is in the hospital." And then we moved on. We just thought, Oh, okay, she's probably going to be fine. She probably had some illness.

It wasn't very long after that I got another call, and my sister was gone. It was her fortieth birthday, and that was two years ago. It was a sad night. Weeks ahead were difficult. I was tasked for caring and doing things that I never thought in my young age that I would ever do for my oldest sister. And over the past two years I've mourned her death in various ways.

There have been moments of incredible hope. I know that one day death will be swallowed up, guys. That's good news. It will be swallowed up. Jesus has already defeated it, and one day it will be defeated forever. The truth of these verses leaves me longing for heaven. I long for it.

But then there have been days where I could cry a river. Just so sorrowful, so sorrowful. I weep for our loss, and I have no words. I have hope, but I feel heaviness that is indescribable. So I don't try to explain it. I just cry those days. I don't try to explain. And yet the Lord has made me that I can be sorrowful yet always rejoicing. He has met me in pain.

Now, I don't know about you, but sometimes do you feel like you just need to be strong? I have two kids, so I feel like sometimes I need to be superwoman, but the Lord didn't make me that way. So I have to be strong. I feel like I have to be strong for them. We have responsibilities. We need to go. We need to be strong. We need to be able to do that.

And so often, I can think that I need to even suppress real pain. So some of you may be having real pain or real trials and you're like, "Well, I need to suppress it, because I need to be strong."

God never once promised that the Christian life would be without trials. Really, just the contrary. And so, your pain that is real, it's real. You can just say it. It's real, and it's okay.

Just looking at me, and I'm going to tell you a little bit more about me. We're going to get intimate. You might assume that I could have a fairly easy life. But I've walked this short earth for about thirty-six years, and I've experienced a wide variety of trials, which is why I'm speaking with you today.

As a young child, my parents struggled financially, so I experienced lights being off and poverty in different ways and just staying at different relatives' homes. During my college years I was assaulted, sexually assaulted. I was not raped, by the grace of God.

My father passed away a few months after that. I was nineteen, and he was one of my best friends. He lost his battle to cancer. Since being married, and happily married by the grace of God, I've had four miscarriages. General health issues, and then as I've just shared with you, the loss of my sister.

I don't share these stories as a way to "look what I've been through," but so that you know that I can relate and so that you know we can be sorrowful and yet rejoicing. We can. And the good news is that we have a suffering Savior, a Savior who relates much more than I ever could, than I ever could relate.

Jesus is aware of and acquainted with the grief of man. He is acquainted with my grief. He is acquainted with your grief. The God-man endured trials and temptations but without sin (Heb. 4:15). He faced agony to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44). On His way to the cross, Jesus sat and prayed to His Father if it was God's will to take the cup of wrath away. And yet, we all know that He willingly drank it. He drank that cup, and He hung on the cross. And in His final moments on the cross Mark records Him saying, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). His pain and suffering was for a purpose-the redemption of the world. He endured great pain-pain I can only imagine and pain and wrath on my behalf.

If you have a Bible, you can turn to Isaiah 53. I'm just going to read.

Isaiah 53:3-6:

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned-every one-to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

This is our Savior, Jesus. He truly understands our grief and our sorrows. And He took away our sin. That's amazing. Amazing. There was a purpose to His pain-a great purpose. And God has a purpose for us in our pain as well.

The believer knows that there's a great and glorious purpose in trials. Suffering is designed to purify our faith. Peter comforted the Christians in Asia Minor by reminding them, thus reminding all of us, of the great purpose of suffering.

He writes this, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." That's 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Any trial or suffering I endure, it is a test of faith, isn't it? Have you ever endured a trial and not asked why? "Why Lord?" Have you ever woken up sorrowful and asked, "Why?" Have you had a baby, and you looked at that precious baby and then you started crying? Postpartum. It happens. You're like, "Why? I've got this beautiful baby and I'm crying." And it's confusing. Moms know what I mean. You're like, "Why, Lord?"

It's for a purpose. And Charles Spurgeon in The Suffering of Man and the Sovereignty of God addresses it. And he's thinking about Job. He's talking about Job, and he says, "In what better way can the believer reveal his loyalty to his Lord? He evidently follows his master not in fair weather only but in the foulest and roughest ways." In the foulest and roughest ways we follow.

Here's some good news for you-the beauty of our faith is never derived from us. It's always been a gift. Our faith is a gift from salvation, to have faith in God, and it continues to be a gift. He says He will finish the good work He began. Isn't that good news?

I can be sorrowful and yet rejoice. That's one of the reasons, because my faith does not come from me. I don't have to work. I can just cry out to the Lord, "I'm weary. I'm weak. I'm tired. I need You." And He's going to answer that prayer.

God graciously gives me faith to believe His promises-to sustain me to the end. So when we are despondent, that's what we need to hear. He gives me faith to trust that He is with me in my days of trouble. All good things, including the faith to endure trials, comes from our Father, our heavenly Father.

So though trials may come, and they will, I'm confident that He will give me sustaining joys. And so I can rejoice. I can rejoice in suffering, because I know I have a living hope. Jesus right now, He's not in the tomb. It's empty, right? He is a living hope.

I know that my hope will bring me to an eternal glory. I will one day rise and be with Christ forever. I can rejoice in suffering today, because I know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put you to shame, because God's love has been poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to me. That's Romans 5:3-5.

So though I have experienced various trials, where is our hope? It's in Christ. I rejoiced during these trials in my living hope knowing that nothing, no great trial, no pain, no sorrow, and no one shall separate us from the love of God. We can be in despair. If you are struggling and you find yourself weeping or whatever it is-you know where you are-you can be comforted in knowing that nothing can separate you.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, [this is awesome! Nothing!] nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39).

Now, I'm going to tell you this later, but I'm going to tell you this now. If you camp out in Romans 8, you will be refreshed. Even if you're encouraged, praise the Lord, camp out in Romans 8 anyway. It's filled with such good truth. That was Romans 8:35-39, which I'm sure you've heard.

So what about you, ladies? You can ask yourself, Do you feel hopeless? Do you feel discouraged? Is this something that you are experiencing? When we tell ourselves that we can be separated from the love of God, it is a lie. We are believing a lie. Nothing can separate us.

When we tell ourselves that there's no way that we could be sorrowful yet rejoicing, it's a lie. It's a lie. It doesn't mean, like Lindsey prayed, that you are going to wake up and be marching around with a happy face. That may not be what the Lord has for you. But there can be a quietness, a quiet trust, a quiet hope, a quiet belief even in the midst of your tears. Do you believe that?

So have you ever been told, "Trust the Lord"? Trust the Lord. We throw around what I like to call-and I hope this isn't offensive-Christianese. Like "trust the Lord." We throw around these words and these phrases that are helpful. They're good. They're not always helpful, but they're good because they are truth.

We want to trust the Lord, but we need to ask ourselves, Who is the Lord? Who are we trusting in? Knowledge of God ultimately transforms the knowledge of all things. So knowing who we're trusting in makes it easier to know when someone says, "Trust the Lord," okay, this is who I'm trusting in.

My son, who is now eight, when he was about four, he said something to me that has really changed the way I view all sorts of things. But I've always told him about God. I've shared with him the gospel. I've told him about God. His father and I are sharing the gospel with him. Finally, when he was able to talk and really formulate a good sentence, he said, "Mom, I don't believe."

And I said, "Oh, this is good to know." And he said, "I don't see Him. Where is God? I want to see Him." And I was like "Well . . . we'll pray about that." I mean what do you say in that moment? I was like, "He's real."

But it was so good. I was so thankful for one, when my son does believe, which I think he does now. I know he does now. But when he does and its firm, it's not because his mommy does. The Lord uses it, but it's because God gave him faith. It's God who transforms. It's God who gives us the faith to see. It's God who will give you the faith to see.

I could come up here and read a bazillion Scriptures to you, which I am. But it's God who gives us faith. It's God who helps us see the truth of His Word. I can tell my son for the rest of his life, and I will, about Jesus. But Jesus has to impart faith to him, and that's what I'm praying for for him.

And I think we can be like my son. We hear people talking about God. We might even speak about Him. Do we actually know Him, and do we believe what we know? Even born-again Christians, I think we can grow. We can never grow too familiar with God, right? We can never grow too familiar with God.

And let's be honest-or I'm going to be honest. During those terrifying moments of fear and dread when something's happening or when you feel out of control or whatever it is that you are dealing with, you can forget. And actually, even if everything is sunshiny and beautiful, we forget! We get busy, and we forget who God is. And so, we're going to talk about that, because I believe in order for us to trust Him, to be rejoicing, we have to know Him.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism when answering the question: "What is God? God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth." God is so great and so magnificent and so awesome in everything He is and does.

As J. I. Packer so eloquently wrote (and I love this quote), "Like us, He is personal. But unlike us, He is great." This is good news for the weary. We serve a great God. He is not like us. We are weary. He never grows weary or faint.

God is not like us. He is holy and set apart. He is completely pure. He is completely other than anything our infinite minds could imagine. And though we are made in His image, He is nothing at all like us. We can be like Him, which is amazing in and of itself. But who is like our God? No one.

In the song of Moses we read, "Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?" (Ex. 15:11) The answer is, there is no one like our God.

God is any adjective you can think of describing something great. So often we minimize God and we think of Him like us. And to be really honest, how we think about God is often revealed like what Joni was saying, in those times when we're being squeezed. She said it. We get squeezed and our hearts get revealed, and it's clear what we believe about God. But understanding who God is or that He isn't like us can lead us and should lead us to worship and rejoice. We serve a God who is not like us. So that's good news.

I love hymns. I love that this conference loves hymns, and it's filled with such good truth. Suffering and trials are a mystery, but we can know that we are in the hands of a good and wise God. And have you heard of the hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"? If you don't . . . I won't sing it, but I will read it.

William Cowper, he captures the wisdom of God well. Now, you might think of someone who's writing about the mysterious way that God moves that maybe he had it together. Well, this guy, the author of this hymn, he didn't write it because he had great joy. He was in the midst of deep sorrows. He suffered through depression, great doubt, and even intents of suicide. But his words live on through this hymn, and so I'm going to read it.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

 

Oh, God, in a mysterious way

Great wonders you perform.

You plant Your footsteps in the sea

And ride upon the storm.

 

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing [He's not failing you] skill

You treasure up Your bright designs

And work Your sovereign will.

 

O fearful saints, fresh courage take.

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

 

Our unbelief is sure to err

And scan Your work in vain;

You are Your own interpreter,

And You will make it plain.

God works in mysterious ways. And I will tell you in all the list of stuff that I checked off and I was telling you about, I have never felt closer to the Lord than during those very hard, hard times. He works in mysterious ways. And even if you haven't experienced anything at all, He in His goodness will prepare you for it because we will surely experience a trial.

In the midst of great trouble Job also declared the wisdom of God. We get a glimpse of Job's view of God when he says, "His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?" (Job 9:4). And with God are wisdom and might. He has counsel and understanding.

Everyone is familiar with Job, I imagine, the story of Job. He didn't lose one thing; he lost everything. And by everything, I mean everything-his family, his wealth, his health. He lost it all. And at the end, as he's repenting and singing these great praises, this is what Job says, "I know that you can do all things; and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).

Job is suffering greatly, and I imagine he's very confused. Wouldn't you be confused if you were considered a righteous woman and lost it all? And then do you all remember Job's friends? Yes, we laugh because they were lousy. They didn't mean to be. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of Job they talk and their intent, their hope, was to come and comfort. That's what they wanted to do. They just didn't do it. They accused him the whole time.

And so that even wasn't comforting. But Job turns to God and is convinced of the wisdom of God even in the midst of great pain and confusion. And that's where God wants us to turn, to Him-found in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.

What does God do for Job? Do you remember? He restores Job. He restores his fortunes. He gives him twice as much as he had previously, including animals, sons, and daughters. Job is restored to his family and friends. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

The end of Job highlights to me the familiar Scripture of Romans 8. I think in the end Job knew a truth about God that he hadn't even uttered before. He understood God in new ways because God does, He moves in mysterious ways. And He is with you in your struggles.

And I say this again because you can't hear this enough, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). If God is for us, even our minds can't be against us, which is often where some of our trials come from.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. [In your sorrows, He is interceding.] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine" (Rom. 8:32-35).

Nothing should separate you.

Here's some more good news for you who may be struggling in suffering. We don't serve a God who's only sovereign; we serve a God who is infinitely loving. Infinitely loving. God's love is incomprehensible. We can't fathom it. And when we try to compare our love to God's love, we fall awfully short. God is love. Everything about God, God loves all mankind.

In the beginning, He provided everything we would need. What happened after Adam and Eve fell into sin? They were naked and ashamed. And what did He do? Out of love He covered them. What does He do for us? Out of love He covers us with righteousness, with the Christ, the righteousness that is Jesus. It's amazing.

God takes care of even the birds in the air. These are all manifestations of God's love. He takes care of birds. He takes care of birds. Is He going to take care of you? Yes. Yes. He is.

D.A. Carson puts it this way. "All the manifestations of the love of God emerge out of this deeper more fundamental reality. Love is bound up in the very nature of God. God is love." First John 4, we see this that God tells us that anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. All that we know about God is bound up one way or another in His love.

He loves us with an everlasting love. This isn't a love that's going to go away. So in your sorrow, He hasn't taken away His love. God is love means that God continually gives of Himself for others. He's continually giving Himself to you-continually. And He's continually thinking about the benefit of others. He wants you to do well. And He did this-and we can't hear it enough-to the point of death on the cross.

We must understand this as we seek to make sense of our lives and fully understand God. He gives us glimpses of His incredible love, and the grace taste of it is the blood of Jesus Christ.

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). He paid it all. He paid it all. This is a love that we can never fully fathom. The gospel is the way that the Lord chooses to fully display it. It's the gospel that gets us through these trials. We need to know that.

So what do we do when the going gets tough? The going is tough. How do we apply this? What do we do?

I want to first acknowledge that there are potentially people here, people in your churches, who are struggling silently, who are embarrassed to say, "I'm struggling." You don't have to struggle alone.

I love what Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones has to say in his book Spiritual Depression, and this is really good: "Avoid the mistake of concentrating over much upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central. Now I am never tired of repeating this because I find so frequently that this is a cause of stumbling. Feelings are never meant to take the first place. They are never meant to be central. If put there, you are of necessity doomed to be unhappy because you are not following the order that God Himself has ordained."

So if you find yourself believing your thoughts or believing your feelings, ask God to help you to believe the truth that is in His Word and available to You through His Spirit.

You can memorize Scriptures like Romans 8. Ask the Lord to help you just sit in it-sit and remember this. "We know," this is in Romans 8. "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (vv. 28-29).

Nancy wanted to wash over us with the Word, and it was all about Jesus and His Name. The purpose is we would know Him. And when we know Him we can face these really hard things. And we may be facing them flat on our face. That's okay. We may be facing them through tears and weeping and sorrow and lots of pain. That is okay. Jesus relates. We already know this. We've heard this.

And don't be afraid to ask God boldly. Come to His throne of grace and ask. Ask Him for mercy. This is your time of need, and He says, "Ask." Ask boldly for mercy in your time of need. You do not have to be strong.

I loved what Mary Kassian said. Strong women aren't strong because we're strong. We're strong because we're weak, and we know we're weak, and we need a Savior. Yes. Amen. What a great word. We are weak, and it is good, and it is okay.

He didn't come for the strong. He came for the weak. And that's you, and that's me, and that's every woman in here, and that's every woman on every panel, and that's Nancy. He came for the weak. He came for you, and He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). He wants to take our burden upon Himself.

So talk to a friend if you find yourself resonating with that list of things. Please, please, please don't struggle alone. Find your friend. Find a pastor. Find someone, and talk to them.

And then you want to ask yourself hard questions. Is this something that you are struggling with, and ask. Ask yourself hard questions, and don't be afraid. Nothing is hidden from God. That's some of the best news that I've read in the Scriptures is it's already out there anyway. He already knows. That's good news. You don't have to hide. We don't have to pretend. We can be sorrowful. We can be upset. We can ask for grace, though, because we don't want to stay there.

And then, have you heard of Jerry Bridges? He's probably one of my favorite authors. But he has always counseled people to preach the gospel to themselves. We can kind of think of the gospel as something that is for unbelievers. So the gospel, you preach it to the lost world so that people are saved.

But the gospel is for us. It's for everyone. It's for all of life. Why would He tell us that He's going to finish the good work He began? Because He hasn't finished it. He's going to finish the good work that He began. And that's good news. But we want to preach the gospel to ourselves.

So on those mornings where you wake up and you're like, "I cannot do this." Confess, "I cannot do this. But Lord, You died on the cross bearing the wrath that I could never bear. And I'm going to trust You, and I'm going to turn from this despair, and I'm going to look to You, and I'm going to walk in You-in faith. And it's going to be hard, but I'm going to do it. I'm going to have to preach, and I'm going to fail and fail and fail and fail. But You cover that with Your grace and Your mercy. And Your gospel covers that. So I don't have to feel shame. I can come to You."

Remember verses like this:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence [we can draw near with confidence] draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive [and He wants to give us] mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).

You have a time of need. He wouldn't have put that in there if He didn't know that we would need it. The gospel breaks the power of cancelled sin. God can give you grace over despondency.

Earlier I read half of Psalm 43:5. I read this: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?" Here's the rest of that Scripture: "Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

We go to God and we say, "I'm cast down, my soul." We're going to preach, "Why are you cast down soul?" But at the same time we're going to preach, "I'm going to hope in God. He is my salvation. He is my hope. He is my God. He is your God." It's an ownership. He owns you. You own Him. He's your God. He is your Father.

The psalmist cried out and then preached hope to his soul. And we can and should do the same.

As I said earlier, as we began, this topic has become something that is taboo. People don't want to say it. May it not be so in the church. May the church be a place where we can be honest about our struggles. May it be a place that's filled with grace.

And can we do that to others? If you are here for someone else, ask the Lord to give you wisdom in how to encourage their faith, because they need Jesus as we need Jesus. And we need hope and they need hope.

So I'm going to pray for you today. I'm going to assume that there is just a gazillion different circumstances in this room, and I'm going to pray for some specific ones. So if you would join me in prayer.

Lord, like I said before, You know why You brought these women here. You know each situation. You know every heart. So God, I just want to pray for some that might be here. There could be marriages that are on the rocks and a woman who is in great despair because her husband has abandoned her. There may be a woman who has a son or a daughter who's a prodigal, and they long for them to know You. But they are running the opposite direction.

There could be someone who's lost a baby. There could be miscarriages in here. I know there are miscarriages in here. There could be people who are dealing with health issues, and they're chronic, and it just won't go away, so they're sorrowful. There can even be someone here who is on the verge of death. Someone who is struggling with deep depression, abusing prescription drugs, on the verge of suicide and no hope.

Lord, may You be our hope. God would You do that? Would You pour out mercy? Like the psalmist, we want to cry out and say, "Hope in You." Lord, help us to hope in You. You are our only hope. There is no other. God, we know that one day all of this will be wiped away-every tear will be dried up; every sorrow will be rejoicing. We know that. And Lord, we pray that You would give us a taste of it today. Give a taste of joy that we know that we're going to experience forever-everlasting joy, right now on this earth, God. Would You pour out Your mercy and Your grace on the women in this room, Lord? Would You make them sorrowful yet always rejoicing-rejoicing because they know a hope that can only be found in the blood of Jesus Christ?

Lord, thank You that this is true. What I'm saying is not something I've made up, but it's the truth of the gospel in the Bible that You have given us. It's true, and it stands true. Lord, thank You for that. So God, would You reveal Yourself? If there's anyone in here who doesn't know You, would You make Yourself known to them in their seat right now? Save their souls, God. In Jesus' Name I pray, You would reveal Yourself to them.

If there's someone who's struggling with hidden sin, may they confess their sin because You are faithful and just to transform us. Lord, make us a people who worship and delight in You. Give us a new heart and a new faith and a new hope. Help us to get up each morning knowing that we are weak, we are weary, but You are with us and we don't have to do this on our own. We have You, God. You're the One who carries us. We don't have to be strong because we are weak. But we can be strong in You, Lord. Thank You for that. Thank You that we, weak and weary women, can be strong in You.

So Lord, I love these women. I don't know them, but I love them with my heart. I've just been carrying them in my heart for months now. And so, God, I pray that You would answer these prayers. Answer their silent prayers, whatever they're thinking. God, I pray that You would answer their prayers and meet them where they are.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are alive and that You are interceding right now for us. Thank You. Thank You that this is real. Thank You, Jesus. I pray all of this in Your Name, amen.

Thank you, ladies.