It was a devastating year. It felt as though some of my closest friends had betrayed me.
For six years, my wife and I had given life and soul to serve the college, high school, and junior high school students of our church. But that year, the year of my 30th birthday, I was fired and experienced what felt like a public flogging.
In the months before I was fired, I underwent a review where the church leadership did a thorough assessment, only to lead to what felt like a predetermined outcome. During the deliberations, I struggled with anger and depression. My motivation to be in the Scriptures was low, but in the end, it was God’s Word, used by His Spirit, that sustained me.
I had memorized parts of Hebrews 12, and it was verses 3 and 4 that the Spirit of God used to help me make it through what felt like a disaster and, at the same time, not give in to bitterness.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Day after day I meditated on these verses, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that my Lord Jesus had suffered at the hands of sinful, evil conspirators, and ultimately had shed His precious blood. And His Father had sustained Him. Wasn’t it possible, as I suffered through failure, that the Father would sustain me?
Though I was depressed and angry, I also continued to believe that God would “lift me up out of the mud and mire, set my feet on a rock, and put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:1-3). It didn’t feel like I was being “lifted up” at the time. But God, in the end, did put me in a new place. Even as I was pressed to the point of crushing, my spiritual roots grew deeper.
Looking back, the stress of that season matured me in essential ways. By His Word and through His Spirit, God enabled me to love those who were breaking my heart and crushing me. In fact, I continue to be friends with the leaders of the church—even after that challenging year.
On Your Own
Doug writes, “Our engagement in the Scriptures (or lack of engagement) will lead us to have either shallow or deep roots. Psalm 1 tells us the way to deep roots is by delighting, meditating on, and yielding to the Word of God. As the wind blows and change comes, those who take root in the Lord’s counsel are ‘like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.’”
- Take a few minutes to review Psalm 1 (you might also want to look at Jeremiah 17:5-8) and consider: what does God promise? What is our part?
- In the book of Proverbs (and other places), God asks us to look at nature and learn a lesson. If you’d like to learn a little more about roots—and how they are strengthened—check this story about the role of wind in a tree’s life, a lesson learned in the Biosphere 2 experiment.