Over the holidays, I traveled down to Macon Georgia, to display Hope For Wholeness and Truth Ministry at a statewide youth conference. There were crowds of youth and their youth leaders.
It had seemed like a good idea to display at this event, as we get so many contacts from teens and their parents. It seemed to be going well, while setting up the display as usual, until the youth and the youth leaders showed up. The looks of shock and humor were blatantly obvious as they streamed by our booth.
I took my son with me to keep me company on the four-hour drive and two-night stay. I knew he would like a trip with his dad, and I could make it fun for us. We would enjoy each other’s company, and he had helped me work a display on such a trip to the Southern Baptist convention about five years earlier. We had a similar response from many pastors that year, as one woman gave our brochure back to him once she read the display.
A few stopped and got information, but didn’t know what to say or ask. However, speaking with people and helping people was why we were there. My son thought it was odd that I wasn’t bringing videos to sell only to give away. I wanted to be there to help youth and youth pastors. One young man said, “I never knew there was such a ministry or that there were people who didn’t want to be that way.” I found that to be a sad sign of the times. Nevertheless, during our stay I did not have one meaningful conversation helping anyone.
The first night, after manning the booth all day, I was depressed. “Why am I here?!” I kept telling myself that maybe a struggling teen will see the website and contact us later. Maybe they’ll see hope, when they had no hope before. That’s what I was holding onto and that’s still my hope, as I’m back home wondering what the purpose of that trip was. It wasn’t free, I had to pay three hundred dollars to display, plus the cost of the hotel rooms, meals, and gas, not to mention almost taking three days in the middle of my holiday break.
Realizing I was struggling with depression, I sent a text to my wife and several friends asking for prayer and telling a brief synopsis. I also went to the gym to run. I ran a fast 5k. Seth lost the room key, so I had to go covered in sweat to the front desk through the mass of kids; fun times. The next day wasn’t any better, but my attitude was different. I had my time with the Lord reading His Word and a devotional early while Seth slept. I was determined it was going to be a good day.
I decided to pack it in about two hours early. Everyone had seen our display over and over, as we were in the heart of their activities. Seth had been good, being patient, so I decided to reward him with a trip to ice skate in downtown Atlanta. He had asked for that and for dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. I told him as we drove back that I wasn’t sure why we went on that trip but if anything it was good time alone with him.
On the way back I was talking to a friend on the phone, who was in dark depression about his circumstances. “I’ve certainly been there,” I told him. While this trip had caused me some depression and doubt of why I was there, was nothing like past events that felt like a pit I couldn’t escape or a hopeless situation that seemed to have no purpose. I was able to speak of my experiences from the past to try to help my friend.
It’s times like this that we must look back and forward. We must look back to the times that The Lord has delivered us from our circumstances and look forward to the hope that He will use these circumstance for our good. Maybe there won’t be a struggling teen to come from this trip but regardless, I know that The Lord had a purpose in the trip. Even if He might have not been behind me going, He’ll use it to teach me something. The Lord works through all times and all situations to mature us and for His plans and purposes, and he’ll use this one too.
Whatever it is you are going through, God is there. He can and will work through your circumstance for your good. If you can just endure and get past it, clinging to Him and to the hope of a better tomorrow, realizing you’re not alone, you’ll get through. We’ve ALL been there! We’ve ALL been depressed and overwhelmed, and all overly focused on our circumstances, and not being able to see a way out. Cry out for help from The Lord; reach out to a friend and tell them you’re struggling. Whatever you’re going through, He will deliver you and will use it for your good (and others too.)