Our hearts are heavy with the burdens of this world. The physical and emotional agony smother us at times, Lord. Like we’re drowning. We’re so tired; soul-weary. The pain and the depression and the anxiety are almost too much to bear. Yet, we are not defeated, but look forward to Heaven. We pray for the strength to endure, so we can someday see that great and eternal land. The storm clouds grow darker, grayer, but we know just beyond those clouds awaits our true home.
The world is getting colder, angrier and deadlier; more violent and desperate, I think. Spirits—that is, hearts, attitudes, emotions—seem to be heavy these days. Like we’re struggling to even breathe, or at least that’s my impression. Bon Jovi said, “Keep the Faith.” Eric Clapton said he was “Running on Faith,” and Kid Rock described his “Lonely Road of Faith.” Real faith, however, comes at a cost of tears and blood. Sometimes it may even cost us our life, but it is the only path to genuine peace of mind.
Today the world received the devastating news of the suicide-by-hanging of Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park. As in the case of many other artists who have committed suicide, the sad fact is the artistic soul is a fragile one. Singers, poets, musicians, painters, writers, actors, we all have it; a seemingly brittle, inner core which is easily shattered. I know life seems devastatingly brittle at times, but believe me, it's not worth ending it. The enemy of our souls is at work, doing everything within his grasp to steal your soul. Don't let that happen. As Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
I’m going to share with you my whole reason for being; the entire reason I'm on planet Earth. My life's purpose rolled up into one paragraph. Here it is: never give up. Never, never, never give up. Never surrender to the darkness which tries to swallow you whole. Never quit. Not tonight, not tomorrow, and not ever. Keep fighting, until you draw your last breath. Keep reaching for the stars, keep breathing, keep laughing, keep loving. Just keep on, and never quit. Life is worth it.
We experience the assault of tragedy, agony or surgery, which we swear will destroy us. Yet somehow it doesn’t. Our spirit grows stronger, wiser, and we move on. It's actually a miracle of the highest order; the pain adds layers to our spirit, strengthening us bit by bit, piece by piece. Until one day we finally see what God was up to when he allowed all the pain and misery and heartache and depression and anxiety to be heaped upon us like burning coals…
The tattoo on my right upper bicep (and on my daughter’s calf) says, “No fear of the future, no regrets of the past.” Granted, this is a mindset which is hard to attain, and even harder to maintain. It's a goal both she and I strive for every day. I'm closer to it than I was a year ago, but not as adept as I will be in a year. It’s totally doable, though. I know this because I've witnessed the joyful faces of those who have gone through terrible agony. There is a terrible sadness, hidden away, which has forever altered their lives. But not destroyed them. So follow the advice of that great theologian, Han Solo, who said, “Laugh it up, fuzzball.”
We’ve all experienced that fear of worrying if the Lord has left us alone to die in our anxiety and pain. But at the right time, HIS time, He will tear open the sky, thunder out of the heavens, fly across the sky, riding on an angel, racing on the wings of the wind, and scatter His enemies. OUR enemies. The fact you are alive, and reading this, is proof He has fought Hell to hold you.
Man, life is a fantastic journey, to be certain, but sometimes the darkness seems too heavy a burden to bear. You feel you can't make it through another day, and yet you do. How many times have you prayed the same prayer, but to no avail? You are stronger than you think, and God has placed within you the strength and resolve to make it through anything this life can throw at you.
Keep in mind: when the curtain is drawn on this life, the measure of our wealth will be fully inconsequential. The only tasks withstanding the fires of judgment are those carried out in the Name of God. The pursuit of riches is a futile quest.