John Mayer is a popular voice on the modern music scene. The mellow tone of his music perhaps reflects a mellow view of life. But there is light shining through as well, and his music often expresses deep longing that goes beyond despair, with songs like “In the Blood,” and more recently “I Guess I Just Feel Like.”
Who can I trust? Who cares enough about me to tell me the truth? Who loves me for who I am, not for what I do? These are questions that go to the core needs of human beings. We long to be in relationship with other people in a wholesome and genuine way. We need people whom we can trust, people who are honest with us, and people who love us no matter what. But it can be difficult to come by a person who really cares.
To make it on through
In an age where we are more connected than ever, we also seem to be more lonely than ever. It’s not a lack of connection that we face, but a lack of meaningful and honest relationships. The church ought to be the kind of place where people can find meaningful relationships, first and foremost with Jesus, but also with other believers who are confident in God’s love and saving grace.
But sometimes the church is not this kind of place. We all dress a certain way, we use the same kinds of phrases, we keep up appearances to make others think we are ok. We pop in for the service and then vacate the seats to watch Netflix at home. Even if someone does open up, there isn’t always the wisdom present of knowing when and where to share, or how to respond to what someone shares.
Can we be honest about our struggles, about the pain that we feel and the difficulties we face in life? Often we don’t feel like we can be. We have to put on a face to let everyone else know that we are really doing fine. Consider the typical conversation at church: “Hey man, how’s it going?” “Good, how about you?” “Yeah, good.” We’ve all been on boths sides of this conversation. But we’re not ok, and we all know it.
Good things are gone
And the weight of my worries
Is too much to take on
Life can be hard. It takes a lot of work to live and breathe in this world. It’s difficult to deal with the stress of life, let alone our temptations and personal struggles. The truth is that we cannot handle our problems alone—and we were never meant to. We need to open up to others.
I’m not talking about a generic “we’re all messed up” sort of sharing where someone unloads their darkest sins on a group without any sort of follow-up or accountability. I’m talking about honesty and openness in a relationship with someone we can trust, someone who will walk through things with us, someone who cares enough to not take “I’m good” as an answer.
I think I remember
The dream that I had
That love’s gonna save us
From a world that’s gone mad
I guess I just feel like
What happened to that?
Yes, what happened to that? What happened to the idea that love would save the world? Though Mayer says he’ll always let hope in, it’s hard to see how this really helps. Hope in what? Ultimately, Mayer ends his song with the dismal line, “I guess I just felt like giving up today.”
As Christians, we are called to hope. Christians have a hope that is genuine and real (Hebrews 6:19). It is not a hope based in ourselves or other fallen humans, but a hope in Jesus Christ, who did not leave us to ourselves. One of the greatest truths of Christianity is the reality that God really and truly loves us, not for what we do, but for who we are. We are all incredibly loved by God and we have a choice: we can either accept or reject this love. This is the kind of hope we need.
God wants to show his love through us to others. Jesus told his disciples that people would know them to be Christians by their love for one another. Not by how much we “know,” or whether we’ve got all the right answers and everything figured out. The church and the world need people who can offer hope by being willing to show this love.
Are you the kind of person that someone else can trust? Can people be honest with you? Do they know that you will choose to love them, no matter what they’ve done or said? Suppose someone in your church told you everything there was to know about them, even the bad stuff. Would your opinion of them change?
Maybe we sometimes feel like giving up because we’ve tried to open up, we’ve tried to love; but when we do, we just get hurt or rejected. In despair, it’s tempting to give up. But just because it is hard to find people we can open up to, does not mean that there is no one. The Devil would like nothing better than for us to believe that we are alone in our struggles, but God did not leave us alone. He knew we needed help, so he sent Jesus. And Jesus is sending you to reach out to others and be vulnerable.
- Why do you think it is hard for people to open up about their struggles?
- Are you approachable and trustworthy with what people share with you? If not, how can you change that?
- How can you reach out in a loving and caring way to someone who is hurting?
- “Whatever Happened to Community?” – Dennis Newkirk
- “The Hunger for Meaning” – Jeff Myers
- “I Need More Than Jesus” – Josh McDowell
- “On this Maundy Thursday — and every day” – Ray Ortlund
- Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- The Mark of a Christian – Francis A. Schaeffer
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