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Mosaic Church's Erwin McManus: Emptiness Is Not the Absence of God

Mosaic Church's Erwin McManus: Emptiness Is Not the Absence of God

Erwin Raphael McManus joins CP Newsroom to talk about the relationship between being an artist and being a Christian on May 30, 2014. | (Photo: CP Newsroom Screenshot)

Pastor Erwin McManus of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, described as a "hipster megachurch," says that "emptiness is not the absence of God."

In a sermon titled "Hope in Desperate Times," McManus talked about depression and said that success does not make you immune to emotional dejection, which in severe cases can lead to suicide.

"Success does not immune you from depression," McManus says, adding that while many may think that depression means God has abandoned them, "emptiness is not the absence of God."

Christians should not allow others to tell them that because something is "off" in their life, they are distant from God.

Rather, a "sense of depression isn't proof that God is distant, it's just proof that you're human and broken," he says. "The brokenness is not evidence that you are insincere, the brokenness is not evidence that God is not near, the brokenness should simply remind you how desperately you need to keep close to God."

Too often churches can seem dismissive about depression, simply prescribing people the remedy of reading the Bible more or praying more. But the pastor says that a look in the Bible will show that faithful servants of God in the Scripture also suffer from feelings of loneliness and despair, such as Elijah, who had "elevated moments of heroism and […] dark moments of despair."

"We misunderstand our own spiritual journey and our own spiritual vitality when we have moments of incredible discouragement," the popular pastor preaches. "In the strangest of ways, as long as you believe in a beautiful future, you can always overcome the darkest moments."

McManus points specifically to 1 Kings 19, which details the story of Elijah, an admirable character in the Bible who reaches a low point and asks God to take his life.

This story is a good example of God standing by someone even in their despair, McManus says, suggesting that even standard bearers of faith like the prophet Elijah have low points, and such emotions don't make them less worthy, they simply make them human.

"Sometimes we have almost a magical understanding of our spiritual journey as if you're never supposed to have bad days," McManus says.

The evangelical pastor concludes his sermon by saying that Christians are never alone, even though they may feel alone.

This is why Christians need to form strong communities so they may unite under God and combat times of despair and loneliness.

"Do you understand how important the church is? How important it is to have true community?" the pastor concludes.


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