I’ve encountered Jesus in the down times.

My spirits were down. I was down on my luck. The number in the bank account was down. The weight of the world was so heavy on my neck and shoulders that my head drooped and my face turned down.

Years ago, in my early college days, I was involved with a group of people who introduced me to a world this young, relatively naive girl, didn’t know existed. It was a spin cycle that took me away from the church and eventually into a very dark night.

I should have been calling out to Jesus for help, or clinging to him for strength and hope, but I had left him behind me and instead relied on my own strength. But that dark night had me crying out on my knees.

I was alone and it was cold in a dirty alley way. I can’t remember how I got there. I was scared and far from home. I didn’t know where to turn and who to call. With my face wet with street water, my head hung low in brokenness, I screamed out “Jesus, I need you!” I believe it was Jesus who gave me the strength to get up. I believe it was Jesus who got me home. I believe it was Jesus who helped me turn my mess into a message. And I know it is Jesus who has brought me this far. I may have left him, but he never left me.

In times of great sorrow at the loss of loved ones, an unexpected infertility journey, a failed adoption, divorce, disappointments, illness in the family, I have turned to Jesus. “Jesus, I need you!” Most times, I haven’t had much else to say for the pain was too strong. Yet I knew I could speak those words. I knew I needed Jesus and Jesus would know what to do.

Lately, I’ve felt like I’m on a journey with Peter. When things get scary or uncertain, I keep saying “keep your eyes on Jesus.” The Matthew 14:22-33 story of Peter getting out of the boat, Jesus’ harsh words of “ye of little faith”, and the raging storm that Jesus did not allow to take over Peter…it resonates with our world and the hurting I see in others.

All too often we rely on our own strength and our own understanding. Jesus did not ask us to do that. In fact, he asked us to rely on him. When Peter took his eyes off of Christ he began to sink and then yelled out “Lord, save me!” I think that sounds a lot like “Jesus, I need you!”

As we begin to mature in Christ, we are able to cry out “Jesus, I need you” in times of sorrow and joy. We can begin our days with “Lord, save me!” Instead of in panic, we will say these words in confidence and assurance in what we hope for but do not yet see.

So many people around us are hurting. At times, the weight of the world is too heavy to bear. Yet I remind us that Jesus did not ask us to take on the weight of the world. He did that when he took on the weight of the cross. He did ask us to lighten the burden of others by offering love rather than piling on new wounds.

Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Cry out to him in joy and sorrow. “Give me Jesus!” Keep your eyes on him who came to save you. Keep your eyes on the one who loves you beyond your wildest understanding. Keep your eyes on he who will protect you in the storm and will not let you sink. Keep your eyes on he who will never leave you or forsake you. “Give me Jesus!”

In the morning, when I rise, GIVE ME JESUS! When I’m all alone, GIVE ME JESUS! When I come to die, GIVE ME JESUS! You can have all this world, GIVE ME JESUS!