“THE LORD IS near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 ESV).
God loves you. You are not here by accident, chance or coincidence.
You are here, at this time and in this place, on purpose.
The one who forged the ocean valleys with his finger and holds the stars with his omnipotent hand had you on his mind when he uttered the words “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26) so many years ago.
He uttered those words knowing that he would have to become man himself in Christ Jesus, fulfill the requirements of the law, and die a perfect atoning death so that you would be a part of his family forever.
He knew all of this and chose you. He did not want your eternal life to be a matter of chance.
That isn’t to say that life isn’t full of chances and changes.
The circumstances we find ourselves in can shock us, terrify us, cause us great grief or even give way to rejoicing.
However, with the weather changing and the chill of the fall nights and the morning fog lying heavy on our homes, it seems as though the pressures of life squeeze in on us.
No longer distracted by the opportunities that the warm days of summer presented, in these dark days we are left pondering our worries, navigating troubled relationships and confronting the obstacles that we have avoided for some time.
This is the time of the year where so many of us struggle with our thoughts and the prison we construct in our mind as we torture ourselves with worst-case scenarios and lonesome feelings.
We spend time reflecting back on our life and remember the “good days” long gone or the mistakes we’ve made along the way.
We focus on the changes and the chances of life, as if they define us, show us our worth and teach us what love is.
They most certainly do not.
Satan, our enemy, and all of his hordes whisper lies into our hearts (John 8:44) and desires to watch us self-destruct.
They long to have the very creature designed to bear the image of God to the world (Genesis 1:26) forsake their life and give in to the temptation of giving up.
But you must stand firm.
Not trusting in yourself, but in the one who overcame Satan (1 Peter 3:18-20; Hebrews 2:14-15; Colossians 2:15, 1 John 3:8), sin (1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 2:24) the world (John 1:4-5; John 16:33) and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; 2 Timothy 1:10).
All of these victories you now share are not because of chance, but because of the love our Father in Heaven lavished on us as he has now given us the ability to be called his children through his son Jesus the Christ (John 1:11-12, 1 John 3:1).
Stand firm then on this truth no matter the circumstance of your life.
If you lose your job, stand firm.
If your bills are mounting up, stand firm.
If your relationships within your family are fractured, stand firm.
If you feel alone, isolated, unheard or afraid; stand firm.
Do not fear even if the Earth gives way, and the mountains fall into the sea.
Do not tremble if the nations fall, and the foundations of the earth shake and melt, because the Lord God, the creator of the Heavens and Earth, is your savior and he will not forsake or leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalms 46, Hebrews 13:5-6).
It is no secret that suicide rates have been steadily raising throughout the past two decades, especially in the western United States, and that our county struggles more than most with this painful reality.
Those who contemplate suicide are not crazy, they are brokenhearted, they are crushed.
If you struggle with thoughts of ending your life, ask for help because you are loved.
If you know someone who is contemplating taking their own life, speak up for them and get them help.
Get them to a place where they can learn their value, their importance and the hope that they have which remains undiminished by the chances and changes this life brings.
Show them through your love how our Lord draws near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit (Psalms 34:18).
They are not here by chance and you are not in their life by chance.
Take time away from your busy schedule, as the holiday season approaches, and see the people around you.
Have them see the love that lives in you and how it has become the anchor in your life to stay the storms that come to pass in our lives (Colossians 2:6-7).
To God alone be the glory.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or pastorlovejoy @rocketmail.com.