Roller coasters continually go down'n'up, but those of you who know me well are likely to doubt that I will be talking about them today. And you would be right. A fan of roller coasters I am not. In fact, take me to Cedar Point and I will gladly sit on the bench with your bags while you head for the rides. Give me the music, the food, and an occasional log ride (if they are still around), and I will be satisfied.
I could be talking about the pot holes that are spreading like an infectious disease on our streets ... down goes the tire, and then suddenly up. I could be talking about the temperatures (or the snow piles) in these first few weeks of January ... down'n'up ... down'n'up. But my memory of the start of this week is focused elsewhere.
This past Monday was a day many call "Blue Monday" - the most depressing day of the year (or, perhaps, the Ultimate Blue Monday). Christmas seems a long time ago, and the winter routine has settled in. Cold temperatures ... long nights ... sloppy roads ... and then the credit card bill arrives - reminding you of all the overspending you did in that season that seems so long ago. One might speculate that the only good news is that pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland in less than a month!
It is no small wonder that my inbox on Monday morning included an informative article on depression in church workers, and that one of the devotions I read this morning was entitled "Dealing with Depression - Part Four"!
The notoriety of the day (and time of the year) pushed me to spend a little extra time in God's Word this week, where two truths are clearly described. The first is that people have been dealing with blue Monday's ever since Genesis 3 (Do you think it was Sunday night or Monday morning when Adam and Eve first ate of the forbidden fruit?). The second is that, if we only focus upon life's problems without lifting them up into the light of God's promises, life will be a constant downer ... which is not what God has in mind for us whatsoever.
Yesterday was a tough one for me. It included eight appointments, two hospital visits and most of my travel time spent on the phone. In those visits and appointments I encountered enough different forms of human suffering and distress to make my heart ache and my mind spin.
Yesterday was a great day for me. It included gathering together with over 20 different people around God's Word (and often times, Sacrament). It included laughter and tears, hugs and kisses, prayers, hymns and hope for the future. And when I finally got home, the good news and sightings of God @ Work far outweighed the bad. And, though I am tired this morning because my night was a bit restless, I know that once again today Jesus will be at work in me through all of the downs'n'ups.
He understands the situation of his people and gives us his word of assurance. "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, 'Where is your God?' ... Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42.1-3, 5) And then the next psalm continues "Send your light and your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise you with the lyre, God, my God. Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43.3-5)
Roller coasters ... pot holes ... temperatures ... life ... all filled with many downs'n'ups ... but God's light and truth leads us through them all ... carrying us to countless joys on earth and an eternity with him.