Editor’s Note: The weekend can be an incredibly distressing time for many pastors to enter into. The desire to spend quality time with family while juggling the pressures of an unfinished sermon can be an exhausting reality. What many pastors need are not more tips on how to prepare better sermons as much as some encouragement to better prepare their hearts to preach the sermon they have. Join Ronnie Martin every Friday for The Preachers Corner, where he offers some words of comfort and stories of hope to help preachers enter the weekend encouraged by the gentle and lowly heart of Jesus.
There’s nothing lonelier than a room full of pastors.
Exhausted from a year of Covid
Bleeding from critical church members
Fighting against cynicism
Needing somebody…anybody…to listen
These were the harsh but unsurprising realities painted all over the faces of eighteen pastors I sat beside last week. Pastors both young and old who shared an eerily familiar isolation that’s reached unbearable proportions in their life and ministries. Pastors who had to eventually leave the companionship with like-minded brothers, and reunite with the darkness that’s been their unwanted companions for as long as they can remember.
I write this not as a leader with written books and readied answers, but as one of these men who has to journey home, wake up, wash my face, and prepare another sermon as a brokenhearted shell of a person. I don’t know.
But look at this song God has for us.
But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness. Psalm 88:13-18
When the writer of Psalm 88 says “my companions have become darkness,” he’s saying the only visible friends in his life are immaterial. And unwanted.
Darkness is hard to hug. It hugs you.
But the hope comes in who we cry out to in the darkness, because even pastors who have darkness for friends eventually wake up to a deeper friend in the morning light who hears our unheard prayers and helps our helpless hearts. We need only to cry out to Him, and though the darkness may not vanish completely, it will not be victorious in the end.