How are you?
– Yup, Fine.
Are you sure, ’cause you don’t sound fine?
– Totally fine.
Have you had that conversation with someone? Someone once told me that F.I.N.E. stands for “Feelings I’m Not Expressing”, and while I agree that there are times and places to keep things to yourself (or to gush), there are a LOT of people who are filled to the brim with F.I.N.E..
What an enormous load some of you are carrying. In my position as pastor I have the privilege and honour of being trusted to help people shoulder their burdens, be a counselor in times of confusion, a defender during times of spiritual attack, and a conduit by which they might come closer to Jesus. It is a wonderful, though challenging, part of what I do.
One of the great discoveries I’ve had over the past years is how good people are at pretending like they are on top of the world. And I was honestly fooled for a long while. But, as I’ve gotten to know more people and they have confided in me, I’ve learned that behind every single Sunday mask is a hurting person — without exception. Secret pain, secret sin, bitterness, anger, fear, confusion, loss, family struggles, money problems, loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction, feeling distant from God… everyone is going through one or more of these. Everyone.
Since I know you are one of them, I want to tell you two important things:
1. You’re not alone.
You are not the only with that issue. Some of Satan’s favourite lies are to tell you “no one will love you if you tell them this”, “no one will understand how you feel”, “you shouldn’t be a burden others”, and “you don’t need anyone — you can deal with this problem all by yourself.” They are LIES! God gave us to each other because it is not good for people to be alone, and His church is where people can get the best help. (Gen 2:18, 1 John 1:3, Heb 4:15, James 5:16, 1 Peter 4:10)
2. God hasn’t left you.
There’s nothing you can do to earn God’s love and nothing you can do to lose it. Forgiveness is and divine strength are available to everyone who would ask. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt guilty, filthy, or tempted, and thought “”I’m too messed up to even pray. God doesn’t want to hear that again. I should only pray when I feel more spiritual, otherwise I’m just going through the motions, and God doesn’t want me to just go through the motions.” Those are LIES. Don’t listen to the voice that says, “You’re dirty (or useless, or a burden) and God doesn’t want you until you’re clean (and useful and fruitful).” God LOVES to take dirty, broken, addicted, messed up people and make them clean and whole! Pray anyway! Pray when you don’t feel like it. Pray when you don’t want to. Pray because you need it, and God honours prayer. (Matt 28:20, John 14:16, 1 John 1:9, Rev 3:5)
If you would like some counselling or need to be connected to a group of believers, contact me and I’ll do what I can to help.