What is the antidote to despair?
…the church has a vital role in countering …despair. What is the antidote to despair? Life filled with hope, connection and purpose. For all of us… life is hard. Suffering is real. Here we apply the hope of the gospel (good news). In this [earthly] body we are stuck on the treadmill of failure, (all of us). We are corrupt in every ounce of our being. We constantly fail to live according to the holy standards of God’s law. Thankfully, Christ succeeded by obeying God perfectly. His substitutionary death and glorious resurrection contain the hope of a new body to enjoy a new heaven and new earth upon Christ’s return. Through faith in Christ, we have the freedom to pursue righteousness. The Holy Spirit now dwells with our spirit and is a guarantee that failure is not our end. As we abide in Christ, he promises to carry us through this failure to glory. Our salvation does not depend on our [being perfect]. Neither does our justification or sanctification depend upon our efforts. Fostering hope by constantly drawing people to this truth is a balm for suffering souls.
How does one abide in Christ? By faithfully making use of the means of grace in the context of his body, the church.
What happens when we go to church?
Participating in the life and fellowship of the church, however, gives one purpose beyond meeting one’s individual desires regular Sabbath-keeping and participation in the liturgical rhythm of worship shapes and forms us in a way that is a corrective to a culture that preaches instant satisfaction and dismisses delayed gratification. Keeping the Sabbath is radically countercultural. We do not get to choose whether or not to have a Sabbath day. God has determined it for us. In keeping it, we learn submission, patience and communal joy. During worship, we reorient our identity, passions, concerns and desires to our God-given purpose of glorifying him. We come before God’s throne as sinful creatures in need of salvation and not just sick creatures in need of healing. We communally confess this reality and seek God’s forgiveness. We receive the declaration of his forgiveness and formally receive peace from his throne through his minister. God’s Word cleanses us as we hear Christ preached. With our tongues, we pour out our lamentations and praise in prayer and song. In the Lord’s Supper we taste that the Lord is good. We do not grasp nor gorge upon the elements. God gives the elements to us through the hands of his church. We connect the reality that our physical sustenance, like our spiritual sustenance, is entirely dependent upon God. We look forward in eager anticipation of the over flowing richness of the table set for us in glory. On earth, the satisfaction of our food and drink lasts but a short while, but in heaven our enjoyment will be limitless as we feast upon our limitless God. …
We all wrestle with sin and are called to be holy. We all are to throw off everything that enslaves and ensnares. Our world is broken…. The church is for broken people. In her, we find the only sure fount of hope, connection and purpose. We should open her doors wide and invite a dying world to enter and taste the goodness of the Lord.
Taken from an article by James H. Berry, in the New Horizons magazine October 2019