Rachel Lane is a gifted writer and author of the book ‘Why do I feel like this? Meeting God in the Emptiness‘. It’s aimed at young people facing mental health challenges – especially relevant at the moment! As someone who has struggled with depression herself, especially as a teen, she speaks with wisdom and experience. Thanks Rachel, for your book and for this great guest post.
The Way Through A Crisis:
“The world offers us many ways to get through a crisis. We can try to numb the pain, anaesthetising ourselves with drugs and alcohol. We can look for a temporary escape through novels, box sets or endless internet scrolling. We can seek comfort at the bottom of the biscuit tin or under the duvet. (Many of these methods are old favourites of mine, by the way.) Perhaps you are different, though; perhaps your coping mechanisms are productive rather than destructive. Maybe months of enforced restrictions this year have seen you remodelling your home, training for a (virtual) marathon, or planning a new business venture.
Oh, there are good and bad ways to get through hard times, and a myriad of ways in between. In fact there are so many ways that I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel completely confused. I have a low tolerance level for discomfort – ie. I hate feeling bad – so I cast around for a quick fix. The world seems happy to oblige, presenting me with a veritable smorgasbord of choices. Exercise, self-help books, mindfulness, knitting, books, wine, chocolate, a good moan to a friend. Not bad things, necessarily. But how should I decide which way to choose, today? And will it work, today?
Into this confusion, Jesus speaks.
He says, ‘I am the way. And the truth. And the life.’
And with the clarity of his words, relief floods through me. In the light of this promise, confusion disappears. My tired brain, overwhelmed with choice, grabs hold of this simple truth like a log in rapids.
Of course, Jesus is talking about something bigger here than getting us through the day, or even getting us through a global pandemic. He’s talking about getting us to heaven. It’s good to be reminded, amidst the challenges of right now, that this is my greatest need.
But it’s also a reminder for every day, and every situation. For will the Saviour who deals with the big things leave me to work out the little things on my own? Never. He is my Shepherd, who is there to lead me, to guide me, to take care of me, every single day. How will I make it through this day, this month, this year? Jesus alone shows me the way. Jesus alone is The Way.
In England, as I write, we’re poised on the brink of a second national lockdown. Many of us are struggling; practically, financially, emotionally. We’re tired of this now. We’re worn down after months of restrictions. We’re worried about what the future looks like.
There is a wealth of good advice out there, and we should listen to it. Stick to a routine. Get outside whenever we can. Take care of our bodies by eating properly and exercising. But let’s not forget that as believers in Jesus we have so much more undergirding these things.
Stick close to Jesus. Cry out to him. Share this time with him; your fears, your frustrations, your failings. Steep yourself in the promises of his Word.
And stick close to his people. Churches may be closing for a time, but we need each other. Let’s be deliberate about connecting with fellow believers, whether it’s online, on the phone, or for a walk. And let’s be honest with each other about the ways we’re struggling. So many of us are reluctant to ask for help, but let’s put aside our pride. God has given us our church family to support and love us, as we seek to support and love them.
We live in a world of quick fixes. Time is short, and we want answers. The internet obliges with its ‘5 ways to beat the blues’ or ’10 steps to happiness’. But God doesn’t usually work at a ‘one click’ pace. He offers us a relationship. We need to learn to walk with him, day by day, and there are no shortcuts.
As I sneak a glance at the path ahead right now, it looks rocky. There are towering peaks, with hazardous mountain passes. The sky is overcast. I can’t yet see the lush valley on the other side of the ridge. But let me look instead at the guide who accompanies me on the journey. The one who knows every inch of the path, and has promised never to leave my side. The way might not be easy, but I know I won’t be left to walk it alone.”
Rachel Lane lives in Hastings with her husband Martin, who is a vicar and their four children. She is an English tutor and writer who loves reading, walking and drinking coffee with friends. Her book ‘Why do I feel like this? Meeting God in the Emptiness’, is published by Christian Focus and available now.