As I write this I’m going through one of my depressive phases. We all have them from time to time when the cares of the world seem to come at us full steam, intending to roll us over. To make a long story short, I’ve been enduring a significant trial for the last year and a half that looks like it will end badly when it finally does come to an end.
You’ve experienced these times too, I know. We all do. We pray and examine ourselves, asking, during a period of introspection, “What have I done to bring this about? Is it my fault? What do I need to make right?” Then nothing comes. The heavens are dry on a cloudless desert day. Silence.
Years ago I sat with a pastor friend of mine as we discussed our spiritual lives and ministries (shop talk). I held up my Bible to him and said, “If God never spoke to you again, would this be enough for you?” He paused to consider the question carefully and said, “My ministry is dependent upon God speaking to me. If God didn’t speak to me then I couldn’t do my ministry.” A wise answer.
I remember saying to him, at the time, if God never spoke to me again I want to be the kind of person that it would be enough just to have the scriptures. Would the Bible be enough for me?
Now I find my words being tested as I look to the Scriptures to apply its principles to the situation I’m in. I wonder to myself, “Did I speak to soon, or too foolishly? Lord, you’ve spoken to me in the past. I need you to speak again in the present.” Yet it seems the heavens remain locked, so I turn again to the scriptures to see what God has already said that I need to heed even more.
One of the passages of scripture I think about a lot is Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11. To all of the other churches, God gave promises that if they would do the right thing He would encourage or reward them. There was, for lack of a better description, a Divine carrot on a stick He held out to the churches—something to look forward to. But not for Smyrna. Allow me to paraphrase what Jesus said to Smyrna.
Guys, things are bad. It’s going to get worse. Then you’re going to die. Be faithful anyway.
There were no extra inducements for Smyrna; just a hard road to travel. Though it all goes against you, be faithful anyway.
It was enough for Smyrna that God spoke to them. Just his voice of encouragement was enough to help them plough through.
Would you like to be like Smyrna? Honestly, there are times when I don’t want to be like Smyrna. I thought I did, at first. Almost like that superhero attitude, I can do it. And while I find myself pondering the lives of men and women in the scriptures and look to apply what I read, at the same time I long for God to speak, even if it’s just a, “be faithful anyway” kind of word. So I press forward. I look a Smyrna and remind myself to be faithful anyway.
Be faithful anyway. Read the scriptures as if he’s talking to you. If your Heavenly Father speaks, great. But if not, keep to the Word anyway. Cherish it. Then see what God will do.