June 21, 2017

Hope instead of distress

After four days of hearing a lot of bad news, I’ve felt discouraged. I’m still recovering from cataract surgery, a couple of family members are battling two different but serious health issues, another is shocked at a death beside his home, still others are struggling with various circumstances, and one is in a grave state of rebellion. Jesus did say in this world we would have trouble . . .  

But He also said to be of good cheer for He has overcome the world. Yesterday, I decided to think on the positive side. Without Christ, that would not be easy, but because of my Helper, the Holy Spirit, my feelings of despondency were lifted.

Today’s devotional is about those negative feelings, particularly when it seems that the good news about the grace of God is not changing lives. Not only am I prone to anxiety, self-pity and feelings of emptiness and uselessness, so are many others. I want my family, friends, and neighbors to know that joy, even joy in trials, is possible in Christ.

For me, much of my struggle in the past few days has produced fatigue. The night before last, I slept ten hours and wanted to nap before lunch. But God pulled me out of that with the gracious truth expressed in this favorite Old Testament passage:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28–31)

Another verse says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” and that is so true. Just being fed up with anxiety and feeling sad over things I cannot control are more than enough to put me in ‘wait on the Lord’ mode, and as always, He came through for me.

One of my concerns has been aging and death, not just mine but for those I love. I don’t want them to go, at least not yet. The disciples had heavy hearts when they realized Jesus was leaving them, feeling similar emotions and sorrow. Jesus said to them:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3)

Whether it is discouragement over the issues of life and death, or an apparent lack of God being at work in the lives of those on my prayer list, I still have good reason to be optimistic, encouraged, hopeful and confident. My Lord and Savior sits upon the throne as sovereign King of all things. As the devotional reading says, He reigns in the serenity of total control even though my eyes may not always see what He is doing and that He reigns.

I never know for certain what each day will bring, but God has everything mapped out. He will answer my prayers according to His will and purpose. In the end, He will be glorified and whatever the Lord does will be best for me and for all His people.

Jesus, my hope is solidly grounded in Your promises. You say: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) You also tell me to keep praying, keep obeying, and keep trusting You. All the troubling issues of life are nothing compared to Your grace and power. I can confidently wait on You, find my joy in You, and refuse to let my heart be troubled. No matter what happens here, You assure me that You are with me now, and I will be with You forever in glory.

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