What does God’s power look like, do you think? Must it always appear the same way — should it always be stationed in the same vicinities and triumph by predictable means?
Or, is our God ever unique? Is He steadfastly after our hearts and our neighbors hearts — who ever they happen to be at the moment — in new and exciting ways?
Can He be capable of more than we can see? And what is more convicting: Is He possibly now busily at work accomplishing works of redemption and healing while we complain that His mercies are no where to be found?
What if the kindnesses of God have escaped our view not because He has hidden every trace of hope from us, but because we have chosen blindness over seeing Him? Is it not true that we cannot see the works of a Savior unless we look for Him first?
And from where might a Savior emerge? Doesn’t He show up more regularly on the scene of disaster than a parade of bliss? Doesn’t He pass by unnoticed in the ho-hum days when there is no evidence of our need/desire for His services? Isn’t He crucial to our existence only on a desperation basis?
Therefore, if we need His rescue, the only thing that could prevent us from receiving its benefits would be in denying either our need or His ability. The first error of a desperate sinner with an unexplainable aversion to rescue is rooted in apathy. Despite being suspended over hell by consequences of our own actions, we excuse the situation from which we need escape as something that is “really not that bad” whether this is due to ourselves not being that bad, or God being too precise in His expectations of our repentance.
The second error is also a quality of faithlessness, but in this case it is sated in doubt of God that is a disguise for woefully misplaced grief. We know we are in a bad spot, and that there is no undoing what we have done to get ourselves here, but if only God had helped us be better people, we would not be in this spot. God is the reason we are here on death row at all.
The cure for both apathy and self-pity is nothing less than choosing to believe God for what His Word says. Faith in God — the strenuous and only legitimate work of the soul — takes hold of the gospel in such a way that it turns us out of our own one-man sin party and instead compels our spirits to be united to the God of heaven. It recognizes that we are sinners at no fault of God’s yet He has mercifully reached out to save us. We will accept His offer at whatever terms He gives us; trusting that He will fulfill His promises to completely transform us into God-fearing and God- glorifying individuals that will one day fill His presence with praise and passion.
There is nothing like knowing that you will be okay when God gives you a glimpse of
how in control He is of your circumstances,
how capable He is of unveiling more of His glory to you in it, and
how adept He is in transforming your heart by its pressure.
Love Him even if He is all you have! If testing is what He has chosen for you, then appreciate the fact that there was likely no other way you could have become pliable enough for God’s love to freely mold you.
Consider the trial-testimonies of others, and ask your Savior for new insight in reflecting on yours. Our stories are not so different; they will always reflect the same truths that we need to see, if we are first conscious of the same God at work behind them.
Our Lord has enabled me to face and endure the testing of so many things that I never could have faced or come through alone. This is how the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to accomplish the revelation of grace in our lives: It corrals us into positions from which we might be most certainly impressed by our need for His sacrifice and by His willingness to offer it.
Sometimes our lives can seem painted over with issues. Whether they are big or small does not matter so much as the fact that we notice them. They steal our attention, and maybe even our joy. When we look at our day-to-day existence we do not see grace and an overflow of God’s love, we see everything that is wrong with us and everything around us. The view can get depressing when we cannot see much that we have gotten right.
It is easy to get used to rating how things appear, but contrary to what we might believe, this is not dealing with anything. What we are doing is dancing around issues. This makes it obvious that we think the issues we are looking at are the issue — the biggest thing we ought to be focused on. To face our woes or complications is not to look at them deeply, or to be bogged down in them morning and night. In so many areas we can feel like we are a case, but if we want to get the sentence, then we need to look to the Judge.
The matters our minds are preoccupied with we cannot fix or even make sense of. Momentary issues are not the issue. The gospel is really the main issue. It attacks each of my issues directly. The gospel reminds me of this central truth: nothing is really supposed to consume my attention but Christ and all that He has done for me. That needs to be my central focus on every occasion, in every wave of doubt or difficulty. Nothing else can save me. Jesus came to make me free from my anxiety through His atonement for my sin on the cross, not to make me feel like it is less real.
Our help comes when we let God put us in the middle of our issues. We must accept that we are not a person with problems that can be isolated into separate issues, but a problem that is called a person. Only when we can admit our dependence on Him will we be able to see the truth about ourselves and then how God fits into our lives. We get His perspective as we look upward, not inward (and certainly not outward!). The issues in our lives and relationships are nothing less than issues of our heart revealed in a format we can see. External realities show us internal realities. Nothing is a greater reality than God and we want what we see to match up with Him, otherwise we are deceived. When we realize that Christ, and He alone, is the issue we need to be focused on, our hearts will follow the Truth and He shall set us free from all the issues that not only grasp our attention, but our understanding.
Issues are the outlet we have to seeing where God fits in our lives. How we respond to our issues will either divert us from, or direct us to, the real issue: Is God really who He says He is, and can He be trusted to handle us and our baggage? Often what holds our attention as an issue we have to fix is not truly what is the problem at that moment. Therefore, because of the vanity of our fleshly understanding and the deceitfulness of our hearts, we need to use the gospel to interpret where the lines of our real problem falls.
“O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in
God.” – Psalm 3:1-2
As I read these verses this morning I realized that this is not only David’s cry for help, but mine as well. In fact, it is relative to everyone. All humans have a foe. Even so, when I look at a passage like this, I wonder do I have any “foes”?
I have known Satan is my enemy, but for some reason I suppose his terms of communication are so bold that I will easily apprehend his schemes. I feel confident that I’ll recognize the “roaring lion” when I see him and resist him. It will just be natural and automatic. Right?
Wrong, I discovered. Yesterday I got to know my adversary a little better, and I learned that my understanding of him is deficient. You see, my foe was not the being for which I had prepared. He was a great force, but not in the way that I expected. He didn’t turn up in the form I had been anticipating. His blatant proposal for sin was missing too. Instead, my faulty perceptions of how he worked provided him the perfect accommodation for his purposes.
He offered me a stimulus that appealed to my emotions. An emotional response would divert me from considering who was truly stimulating me. Pointing to my feelings of discontent, he tugged on an inherent value (personal advantage), and incited me to question God’s character. Once I turned from trusting God, I could only turn to him with that same trusting submission.
I did not perceive the destruction he had drawn me into until I had pursued doubt into anxiety and depression. When I cried out to God for peace, He brought me out of the trap of my feelings, and back to the only foundation I can stand on: His steadfast love. This love is salvation from my foes and my own misdeeds.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he [God] set aside, nailing it to the cross. He [God] disarmed the [demonic] rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him [Christ]. – Colossians 2:13-15