I have battled some kind of low-level depression or anxiety ever since I can remember. Perhaps it began with the concussion I received playing soccer in the eighth grade. Who knows? Thirty years later, after I recovered from that other soccer injury, I noticed a dramatic decrease in serious bouts of depression. I wondered if, somehow, my blood chemistry had been altered in a positive way.
Today, I had a sudden rush of anxiety, triggered by a very small setback… car trouble. But, it seems that I was carrying around quite a bit of worry and concern for a lot of friends and family… serious troubles or situations they are facing. I felt like, if I heard about one more heartbreak or distress…
Denise wasn’t home tonight and I needed to study a few points for my study in The Apocalypse or Revelation, so I got into the Bible and my “silent wise counselors,” my books and commentaries. What a wonderful tonic for the heart! I am amazed at how this study has affected my soul, giving me a greater sense of God’s majesty and His love for me. The letter to the Christians at Smyrna reminded me that suffering is “the norm” for the followers of Jesus in this world.
Jesus told the church in Smyrna, “I know your afflictions and your poverty — yet you are rich! Revelation 2:9
I needed to be reminded of that. Polycarp, a friend of John the apostle, would later serve as an elder at Smyrna, where he would be put to death for his faith. It was good to be reminded that my troubles are small and my cares are few, compared to those who have gone before. And, Jesus has been faithful to them and me. When faced with the prospect of death, Polycarp made a touching confession:
But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, ‘Swear the oath, and I will release thee; revile the Christ,’ Polycarp said, ‘Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’ From The Martyrdom of Polycarp
At two score and ten years, I must also confess that my King has “…done me no wrong…” He has overcome the world, so I can be of good cheer.