They came on the same day. One was a “downer” and the other was an “upper.”
The downer was an editor who asked me to take her off my weekly devotional list. She didn’t say why, but there are three possible reasons. Perhaps they’ve found a local devotional writer. This isn’t normally the case since most pastors, in my experience, don’t enjoy or have time to write. Or perhaps the editor is short on space since newspapers are smaller than they used to be and advertising, that pays for it all, shrunk during COVID. Or it could be that the editor found my offerings less than helpful—maybe bad word choices or weak ideas. The editor is, after all, the editor, and has to make these calls.
Whatever the case, I complied and will no longer hit “send” in her direction every Sunday.
But interestingly, I received an old-fashioned handwritten letter the same day from a nice lady in North Alabama who thanked me for the weekly column that she called a “blessing.” She also said we’d met years ago in a local church. How kind of her to take time to send this note. And fortuitous it came on the same day as the aforementioned rejection!
As Chief Jesse Stone of the Paradise Police Department often says to Dr. Dix, “I sense a parable.”
I’m sure my experience is indicative of what many of us face each day. We have positive experiences to encourage us and negative experiences to depress us. Such is an unavoidable part of our human existence.
An old African-American spiritual is “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen.” One verse is “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, Oh, yes, Lord!/Sometimes I’m almost to the ground,
Oh, yes, Lord!”
Our Creator gave us at least two ways to deal with the ups and downs of life. The first is his promise to never forsake us. We know he inclines his ear to us and delights in hearing our prayers.
In a devotional enrichment class I took many years ago, another student complained to the teacher about our textbook.
“This guy tells God everything, like God is his buddy!” he exclaimed.
Our professor responded gingerly, “Your comment seems to imply there are areas of our lives about which God is not concerned. Is this true?”
The student felt sufficiently chastised and retreated.
The other way we deal with the ups and downs of life is to share with trusted Christian friends. The Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
The community of the church is a spiritual family with responsibility to provide loving care for one another.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.