Do ever feel alone? Fear not, God is in the midst.
Last night I decided to dust the cobwebs off a few of my old prayer journals and take a trip down memory lane. I began keeping prayer journals in 1994 when I finally committed my life completely to God. It was the most exciting and scary time of my life. Every day I was discovering a little bit more about God and about myself and my prayer journal became the way I kept track of how God was bringing it all together.
As I pulled out my journal from 1997 I began pouring over my entries and immediately my mind went back to that time recalling where I was at spiritually and emotionally and the lessons I learned. We had just moved to Manteca from the Bay Area and I wasn't taking it too well. Oh I knew that God had wanted us to move to Manteca but I missed my old friends, my job, my Pastor, my church and with my husband working and attending school full-time. I missed him too. I missed driving down my favorite street, Mowry Avenue and shopping at my favorite grocery store, Food 4 Less. Sure, there was a Food 4 Less one town over in Tracy, but that seemed like hours away, instead of the twelve minutes it really is, and as far as I was concerned that Food 4 Less didn't have nearly as good of food as the one I was use to. Are you starting to get the picture? I wasn't very happy camper at that time.
During this challenging period of adjustment I began flip-flopping between feelings of mild depression and not-so-mild anxiety. As a fairly new Christian, I was under the false illusion that Christians should never struggle with depression or anxiety because of our faith in God. This unrealistic, false belief triggered guilt which then added to my feelings of depression and anxiety.
Each entry reflected the daily challenges I was going through at the time and the endless written conversations I had with God asking Him when things would better and why they were the way they were. Now if you've ever gone through bouts of depression or anxiety, let alone moving to a new town where you know no-one, you know it can be a very lonely time. You feel as if no-one understands you, as if your going through roller coaster feelings for one crazy reason or another all by yourself and you wonder if you'll ever get through. Whether you're a Christian or not, when you are stuck in this mode for too long, your views on just about everything become warped.
I kept flipping through pages and pages of struggle, until finally I came across a turning point in my entries. A friend from my old church had called and was sharing her thoughts on Mathew 18:20, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst." The first thoughts that ran through my mind when she mentioned the scripture were bitter ones. I thought to myself, "I don't have two or three friends to pray with in this darn town God brought me to, so how will He ever be in the midst?" Then unbeknown to my friend, the next few words she said caused something to click on the inside, changing my once warped view. She said, "The way I see it, three are always gathered with us when we pray, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That means He's always in the midst when we pray."
Wow! I never thought of it that way. I knew God heard my prayers but my warped view had caused me to think that if I didn't have friends to pray with then Mathew 18:21 didn't quiet apply to me.
Here I had been scribbling endless entries in my journal for months about how alone I was, how I had no friends in this new town, no one to pray with and no one fellowship with. Then whamo! A casual comment snapped me back to the realization that though I hadn't made new friends yet, I did have God the Father, who created me, God the Son, who saved me and God the Holy Spirit who guides me. Suddenly it dawned on me that even if I did feel depressed, anxious or alone, they were just feelings, and feelings come and go. From there my journal entries revealed how I moved from depression to elation, from anxiety attacks to attacking the root of my anxiety because I knew the triune God was in the midst of my prayers.
Now a decade letter, I have many good friends, a wonderful church and Pastor, my favorite Manteca street to drive on is Woodward Avenue. and the town even has its own Food 4 Less. I'm grateful to be able to look back through my many journals and see how when I prayed God has always been in the midst of my life bringing about positive change.
This morning I came across the definition of the word Valentine which I thought perfectly described why God gave us Mathew 18:21 and all the other scriptures of the Bible. Webster's dictionary say, "A Valentine is a letter containing professions of love." The Bible is Gods Valentine to us, His profession of love which lets us know that through all things, at all times, in every circumstance, we are not alone for He is in the midst.