Friday, September 29, 2006

If you do this, then I'll do this

The Bible is full of conditional promises: if we do this, then the Lord will do that. Most of these are kind of long-term, like when God told Abraham that his descendants would be like the sand on the seashore or the stars in the heavens.

But here's one that has taken effect for me within days - hours, even:
...if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desires in a sun-scorched land
and make your bones strong.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58.10-11
I read recently the maxim that the best thing to do when you're feeling depressed is to help someone out. I guess it comes from here.

And I can't tell you how many times I've done this (not to say I get depressed a lot, but I have lived over half a century) and really felt the world brighten.

I don't know whether this is from a sort of special intervention from God, or whether it's just a sort of natural thing that happens -- I mean, as we express God's character in generosity and mercy and service, we're doing what we were designed to do, and that makes us feel good. Imagine a sports car getting onto an uncrowded freeway after being stuck in traffic. As it gets up to cruising speed, it's starting to do what it was made for, and if it had feelings, I think it would feel good. "This is what I was made for!" it might say.

I think that's the way it is with me.

One more thing though

I do want to say that there are some times of depression where "doing more" or "doing something for someone else" is absolutely the wrong thing to do! Consider Elijah in the desert for example. Or in the sports car analogy, if it has a flat tire, then getting on the freeway would be absolutely the wrong thing.

Every person and every case is different. But this has worked for me more times than I can remember.

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