On the Sunday after a parishioner had seen me taking a walk earlier in the week down one of the country roads in our village she commented, “I saw you walking with your head down and you didn’t look very cheery.” “Huh,” I thought, “so now I have to be careful where I walk lest someone see me on a bad day.”
Even pastors have down days, depressing and sad days, and even hopeless days. I believe my wife thinks I might have too many of them at this point in my life. To be ‘down’ doesn’t have to mean you’ve lost your faith. It means that sometimes our mindsets and emotions negatively impact our lives. Even the Christian life isn’t all ‘hallelujah’ and ‘victory chants’. I think of the Apostle Peter walking on water, when his common sense took over and he saw the waves and began to sink. He was feeling down about that time and his only prayer was, ‘Help me.’
Last night a friend said to me that maybe Christians need to show their weakness more so that others can see we are frail humans who still trust in the goodness of God. If Christians are so upbeat all the time maybe others will judge themselves for being less ‘victorious’ in life.
Paul the Apostle had his own weaknesses, and life sometimes got him ‘down’ but not ‘out’, as the saying goes. We can be emotionally and even psychologically ‘down’ but our will can take us forward. The grace of God can empower our ‘will’ to move when our emotions aren’t enough. Faith is knowing that it’s going to get better because Jesus went there first, before us, to suffer and identify with us.
Unlike the parishioner who looked down on me, Jesus would say, ‘Hey, George, do you mind if I walk with you a while?’ That’s what Jesus did for the guys on the road to Emmaus and over the supper they shared, Jesus reminded them that it was going to be ok.
Paul once said, ‘When I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2Cor. 12) Maybe his admission of weakness was his cry from underwater for the help he was to receive. Read the Psalms. These were honest to God people who knew how to be ‘down’ and express it, sometimes relentlessly, on their way to hopefulness and a better day.
We need to walk with one another and encourage one another. Sometimes we even need to have faith on behalf of others whose faith is faltering, standing in for them in their weakness.
I wrote this today because I was out walking with my head down, hoping someone who knows me and that I am a Christian wouldn’t judge me. So far so good. So consider this note as me standing in for some of you today. God bless.