Stating the obvious, bumper stickers and church signs are often poor venues for declarations requiring nuance, and perhaps one should not put too much effort in analyzing them. That being said, I ran across a church sign near my house recently that read “Too Blessed to be Depressed.” These are the same guys whose sign once read “God’s Stimulus Package: The Rapture.” (more on it here) After reading this sign I thought of the following verses and the tensions contained therein.
Matthew 5:1-4 (NASB)
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
I think about the inference of that sign that it is normative that Christians should always be happy and never depressed. What that sign can be is a slap in the face to someone who mourns. There are strains of Christianity that really think that Christians are never to be in any kind of want, physical or otherwise. In light of that church sign, I find it ironic that there is a book in the Bible titled Lamentations. The Psalms are full of lament; some flirt with utter despair. Psalm 88 comes to mind.
Here are a couple of pertinent quotes that I ran across recently to reflect upon in light of the all the aforementioned:
A. W. Tozer: “It is doubtful God can bless any man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
Alan Redpath: “When God wants to do an impossible task he takes an impossible man and crushes him.”
HT: Abide In Christ
In light of the above:
“…your poverty is no hindrance, for my Master asks nothing from you – the poorer the wretch, the more welcome to Christ. My Master is no covetous priest, who demands pay for what he does – he forgives us freely; he wants none of your merits, nothing whatever from you; come as you are to him, for he is willing to receive you as you are. But here is my sorrow and complaint, that this blessed Lord Jesus, though present to heal, receives no attention from the most of men. They are looking another way, and have no eyes for him…. My Master is not wrathful with you who forget him and neglect him, but he pities you from his heart. I am but his poor servant, but I pity, from my inmost; heart, those of you who live without Christ. I could fain weep for you who are trying other ways of salvation, for they will all end in disappointment, and if continued in, will prove to be your eternal destruction.” -Charles Spurgeon