So I was sitting around one day thinking about all of the gloom, despair and agony that at times I feel about myself or about different circumstances in my life. I’m not even really sure why I suffer with such thoughts. When I start to think about it, God has been quite good to me and my family. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), His love for me is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3), His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), His goodness is satisfying (Psalm 65:4), and this is only the beginning! There are so many different ways that the Lord shows me in His Word that He loves, cares provides, encourages, emboldens and strengthens me.
But then those times of feeling down in the dumps. These feelings seem to creep up at the most inopportune time. I think some of you that follow my blog posts can relate to this. Everything seems to be going so well then all of a sudden the light in the room is so dim that we lose sight of what’s really important. Someone will say or do something that hurts you and you think that your whole world is caving in around you. Or something tragic in the world will be taking place and it takes its toll on you. Whatever the circumstance is, it seems to take your eyes off of Jesus Christ. I know that this is the case for me at times. And when I take my eyes off of Him, then gloom, despair and agony on me!
What do I do to fix it? Most Christians today will give the cliché answer: “Just pray more and read your Bible more!” That answer is all well and good but that is not what most people want to hear. At times I can’t stand when someone says something like that to me. However, it’s exactly what I need to hear! In fact, it’s exactly what you need to hear when you’re in the thick of it! We do need to pray more and read our Bible more, but not for the reason that most people tell us to do it. They think that if we pray more and read our Bible more then God will begin to bless us again. As long as we are “doing” our part then He will “bless us.” So this sort of mentality means this: if I do this, then I will get this. I’m not so sure that this is the attitude that God wants us to have. In fact, I don’t think that’s what He desire for us at all!
Then you have this idea: I have to read my Bible more and pray in order to be right. It’s like having April 15th every single day of the year! I have to do this or that in order to be happy or blessed. It is something that I have to do otherwise I will never be judged or zapped by God. There will be a penalty that I’ll receive because of not being obedient to every letter of the law. The problem with living like this is that we are imperfect human beings who are so tainted by sin that we just can’t keep every letter of the law. So we only have gloom, despair and agony on me. This is what this sort of mentality leads to. This is why Paul the apostle teaches us in Galatians that legalism is the number one killer in the Church today. Yet, with all of our understanding (or lack thereof), we tell people that they need to do this do that otherwise they are not living a Christian life.
Then there’s a third option to consider: I get to live for the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, even though I may feel like everything is gloom, despair and agony on me, I get to turn my eyes off of my circumstances, hurt words or feelings, and put them back on Jesus Christ. I get to do this not because of anything that I have done, but because of everything that He has done. Remember at the beginning of this post some of the things I listed that God affords me to have? He affords these things for you, too. As a matter of fact, He desire for us to turn to Him because in turning to Him–and this means depending on Him–He blesses us. And we get to turn to Him when we pray and read our Scriptures. When we do this knowing the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we realize that we get to do this, then there is true freedom. I don’t do this to be blessed because I’m already blessed in the Lord with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3-14). I don’t do this to get something from God because in Jesus Christ I am His joint-heir in all things (Galatians 3:26-29). I
Gloom, despair and agony on me . . . sure, there are days that I feel this way. But the truth of the matter is that in Jesus Christ I have everything. So in the words of the author of Hebrews:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Did you see it? We get to throw off everything that’s holding us back–even the sin that “so easily entangles us”–and we get to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. And for what reason? Why would we do this when we’re feeling all gloomy and despairy and agony like? Because He endured far worse than we ever have or will. And this was His joy knowing that we can fix our eyes on Him and in so doing we “will not grow weary and lose heart.” It’s in the times that we take our eyes off of Him that we “grow weary and lose heart.”
So be encouraged today. Even though that somebody may have hurt you deeply or the world around you is falling apart at the seams, be encouraged to stay calm and fix your eyes on Jesus Christ. There you will discover perfect peace, a peace that passes all understanding.