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Monthly Encouragement from Our Elders

Jesus, Restoration, and Mental Health: A Personal Journey
by Dr. Lance Wonders

MAY 2021
21
WOTL BLOG ON WEBSITE
A year ago, the WOTL elders did some blogging for the congregation, as an attempt to lift spirits and bring encouragement during the first couple of months of the COVID shutdown.  We were requested to do it again post-Lent this year: it was Jake Givand’s turn, but he has graciously allowed me to go first!

As some of you know, I was an active student of sociology while in college. As I studied books like The Precarious Vision and The Social Construction of Reality by Christian sociologist Peter Berger, I saw, more and more, how our personal sense of identity, security, well-being, and purpose in everyday life were tied in with the worldview we shared with brothers and sisters in the faith.  If “significant others” whom we trusted “lost their faith”, it impacted the Body, and not just themselves.  As I later became a Presbyterian Church pastor, I even saw a kind of “domino-effect”, in which whole denominations lost spiritual focus, ceased believing in Scripture, and so ceased to feed their people “the Bread of Life.”  As a counter-measure, then, it seemed as though the Lord Himself made a “fresh start” in this last generation, raising up apostles and prophets and leaders in worship and intercession, to rekindle people’s confidence in the reality of Jesus and the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit.

But somehow, in our groaning for God’s truth, we committed ourselves to a worldview that goes beyond Scripture, and expects Jesus to “restore” all things in this present life.  Many expected to roll back death itself, cancel evil, see a social-even global! – surge in righteous behavior by means of unstoppable revival, and hence see the toppling of the power and authority of Satan himself in this present age.  Instead of expecting this level of Kingdom-life and manifestation as part of the “Restoration of All Things” (Acts 3, Revelation 20, Zechariah 14, Isaiah 65) that occurs when Christ Himself returns from Heaven to bind the devil and resurrect the saints, so, so many pinned their hopes on seeing all that occur right now!

This is the only way to explain the upheaval that occurred when “pro-Christian” president Donald Trump was not re-elected: it was a worldview collapse for many!  How could a sovereign God allow such a thing to happen?  How could hundreds of “prophets” be wrong?  How could the COVID virus be allowed to devastate so many lives?  How could LGBTQ, abortion-rights, a spurning of our Christian heritage once again in the public-school curriculum, be making a comeback?

And on a more personal note, how could “grandfather” figures like Pastor Don be allowed to die?  Why hasn’t Pastor Larry been restored to full health yet?  I personally just found out that I have heart-damage from an undiagnosed viral infection: why is the Lord allowing these things to keep on happening?  It feels more like “Tribulation” than it does “Revival” or “Restoration”.  How do we stay mentally healthy under such circumstances, when, once again, God’s own actions and the outcomes we see in the world around us just don’t seem to “match up” the way that we expected?  Has God somehow “abandoned” us – or was our “worldview” not (yet!) altogether in alignment with the Word of God itself in the first place?

Another way of asking this is, “What is our hope?”  Are we fixated on health and “victory” and “answers” every single day, no matter what: or are we trusting God now – even when the full outcome promised has not taken place until the resurrection of our bodies?  Can we deal with “walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death” (Psa. 23) so long as the Good Shepherd of the sheep keeps walking with us (John 10) – or are we “offended” when life does not go the way we were told, by friends and others, that is surely should?

We need a true biblical balance here, in order not to make ourselves sick with disappointment when we do not find ourselves “in control”.  I speak for myself here, not necessarily for the other WOTL church leadership, in the perspective that I am sharing here.  But there is “hope” that is divinely promised for TODAY….and a more ultimate “hope” that finds its fulfillment in our Lord’s own return with the Kingdom.  Blessed are we when we can discern the one from the other – and do not give poor counsel to others, if and when they look to us for encouragement in the days ahead!

In Jesus and for the strengthening of the flock in ever-deeper union with Him,

Lance Wonders
May 21, 2021
 
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