Think of the last time you were feeling “blue” or even depressed. Did you flip through pages of Scripture, looking for something to bring relief? Did one of your kind, well-intentioned friends quote Romans 8:28, reminding you that God works all things together for good? You were hoping to feel better, but unfortunately, you closed your Bible and moved on with your day, trying to function with a heavy heart.
Have you ever asked yourself why opening the living Word of God has little to no impact on you in these moments? Maybe you even feel guilty about it. “Why don’t I feel better?” Let’s first consider some of these precious promises in Scripture.
“all things work together for good to those who love God…to be conformed to the image of His son.” Romans 8:28-29
“Fear not, for I am with you…I will strengthen you…” Isaiah 41:10
“No temptation has overtaken you …God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will make the way of escape.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
These are just a few of the oft quoted verses that dear friends may exchange back and forth during trials. I’ve got to be honest. I’ve been the recipient of these many times myself, and my heart sometimes responded with anger and even more despair. No, I certainly didn’t make that known. In my pride, I said “thank you” and agreed that of course God is with me. But God could see my heart and I certainly didn’t have peace.
Why is that? Honestly, because in that moment, I didn’t really care that He would provide an escape from temptation. I really wanted someone to cater to my self-pity and excuse my sinful behavior so I could keep doing it.
If I’m honest, I didn’t really care that He was going to strengthen me in those moments of great suffering and weakness. What I wanted was for Him to take away the problem. I wanted Him to give me whatever lust I was pursuing at the time. I wanted Him to use His power to serve me rather than for me to ask how I could serve and glorify Him.
You see, the promises of Scripture will mean absolutely nothing to you if you do not want the same thing God wants. They will not bring comfort to your soul. Put simply, if you want something other than Christ…to know Him and to make Him known…then you will likely walk away from Scripture depressed. God’s primary goal is His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and your sanctification (1 Thes 4:13). Is that your primary focus when you begin your day? Do you open the Bible with the sole purpose of wanting to know God more?
Does your heart sing with the Psalmist who said, “As the deer pants for water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Do you really believe that “a day in (His) courts is better than a thousand elsewhere?” (Psalm 84:10)
I certainly don’t want to minimize your suffering. God doesn’t.1 Scriptures say that Christ was well-acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He is a tender shepherd who cares deeply for His sheep. He catches each of our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). However, I do challenge you to switch your gaze. Rather than focusing on how awful this particular circumstance is for you, focus on Christ. Focus on His life. His suffering. Have you ever suffered to the point of sweating blood?
“And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Christ experienced more agony than you or I ever will. He knew He was about to carry the weight of sin and guilt for His children. Where did He want to be in that moment of agony? He wanted His Father. Is that what you want?
Dear reader, I don’t know what you are going through. Perhaps you lost a child. Maybe you are desperate for God to give you that chance of being a mother. Maybe your husband left you. Perhaps you have been slandered and completely disowned by your family. Whatever your situation, I encourage you not to neglect the Word of God. If you want someone who understands, turn to Christ. Your suffering is purposefully crafted by God’s good and loving hand.
Is it possible that this trial is exposing the idols in your life? Are you turning to God’s gifts rather than the Giver for satisfaction? Do you desire something more than you desire our precious Savior? Don’t buy the lie that the Lord is not enough. He is the only One that can and will satisfy the longings of your soul. Turn back to Christ-the Living Water, the Bread of Life. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life.” Psalm 36:7-9
My prayer for you, dear friend, is that you will taste and see that the Lord is good.
1Blogs authored by Jenna regarding the topic of ‘Biblical Lament’ can be found at her personal blog: thecalltocounsel.wordpress.com.
2This blog was originally posted on Jenna’s personal blog site, thecalltocounsel.wordpress.com.