“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”
2 Timothy 2:13, NLT
There are often times of great despair; when sin or sickness is definitely in the spotlight. Losing hope is an easy response for mere mortals like us. There can be a place where the darkness won’t lift; and it’s at that point you realize that you’re simply in over your head.
I know that feeling quite well.
I have depressive bipolar disorder and because of that I tend to camp out at the margins where it seems like the grace of God evaporates. Whether it is my sin or circumstances, I occasionally feel pretty much abandoned, and it usually is something self-inflicted. (Or is it? I’m not always sure.)
We have this glaring tendency to put ourselves in where we should not have been. And condemnation means no comfort can get through to us.
We wonder if God has finally given up on us, throwing us in the trash heap of lost souls. We might feel that’s what we deserve.
“Many are saying about me, “God won’t rescue him.”
In Psalm 3, David has come to the realization that his sins have “tainted” him. He talks of many enemies that have suddenly gathered, and they are claiming that David had now gone outside of God’s grace and favor. Forever.
The theology of this seemed logical. David had sinned greatly. And just perhaps he had. David’s sin of adultery and murder was heinous and depraved. His enemies suggested that God would now abandon him.
Our own sin may be excessive, but God’s faithfulness is even more extreme.
”Lord, your love reaches to the heavens, your loyalty to the skies.’‘
The grace of God is limitless. It is beyond human comprehension or reasoning. When He committed Himself it was for forever. King David understood this, and would survive the devastating fall-out from his sins. Indeed he would reap all that he sowed (Gal. 6:7-8).
You see, Jesus has taken every ounce of your sin upon Himself.
That includes your faithlessness. He has done this astonishing thing out of the deep depths of His love and mercy. We don’t deserve it and we can’t pretend it is something else. A heart welded to His knows this. We are “saved by grace through faith.”
Do you still feel God has abandoned you forever?
Dear one, there is an unholy war on the saints that Satan is waging. He hates your simple trust in God and will shake it anyway he can. He blisters believers hoping to discourage them. And he doesn’t ever fight fair.
“The Lord appeared to us in the past,saying:“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
The apostle Paul once wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV).
The troubles we face don’t seem light or momentary. They feel heavy and often permanent. Especially when one struggles with troubles like mental illness, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes, physical disabilities, and cancer. Surely Paul was mistaken when he described our troubles as light and momentary. Perhaps his life was a different experience?
No, Paul knew what he was talking about; he knew about all about troubles.
He was flogged and beaten, threatened with stoning, and thrown in jail multiple times for proclaiming Christ. He was shipwrecked not once, not twice, but three times. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us how Paul died, other historical documents suggest that he was beheaded.
Once he chose to follow Christ and proclaim His name, Paul’s life was anything but easy, his troubles anything but light and momentary. And yet, compared to the eternal glory his passion for Christ was earning for him, he could truthfully call them light and momentary.
Our burdens become light when we give them to Jesus.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV). He will carry the load if only we are willing to give it up. Sometimes he brings fellow believers alongside to help with this.
Our troubles become momentary when we see them from an eternal perspective. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV). In our earthly bodies we are bound by time and can be easily fooled by it.
In God’s kingdom, time becomes somewhat irrelevant.
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
God in some profound way, accommodates Himself to your ‘sickness.’ He will turn away from you.
We find that He has this beautiful quality about Him–He becomes quite tender and gentle around any spiritual disease. He gravitates to the broken ones. His love for sinners is a well-established fact we must consider frequently.
In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face:
“I stand by the bed where the young woman lies. . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . private.”
“Who are they? I ask myself . . .
“He and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once, I know who he is.”
“I understand, and I lower my gaze.”
“One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.”
This is who Jesus has always been to you!
And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. For it’s He who wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness, and our ugly, our ever-present sin.
Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you. And I don’t really understand.
I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear….all of it. (Take all it, Lord Jesus.) If I don’t present this broken, messed-up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.”
God truly loves the unlovely.
He is wildly passionate about those who have been disfigured by sin. Those who turn with pretense find a sort of ‘spiritual Botox’ that can only hide their blemishes. But by coming to him with all we can muster we’ll find healing and acceptance.
You see, you’re the young woman in this story. The kisses of your Savior are yours. Unconditionally. And forever.
For some reason, He delights in kissing crooked lips.
Young David stood and looked at Goliath face-to-face. We can read of this encounter in 1 Samuel 17:38-52.
Physically there was hardly a comparison. Goliath was almost 10 feet tall, a warrior since birth–we read of his armor–he was like a human tank.
But David was just a pesky boy, nothing more. Goliath preened and strutted into the field of battle, and simple David was stepping up for his first try at hand-to-hand combat.
And then Goliath begins to blaspheme.
He boasts and mocks. In his mind he believes is superior, his arrogance knows no bounds. The center of the universe is the Philistine army, and he is their champion. He is contemptuous of everything else–physical or spiritual.
Goliath essentially is a ‘human’ wood chipper.
Everyone who has faced him has been destroyed. There have been no survivors to speak of. But I find David to be powerfully exceptional. His reaction to the ‘human mountain’ of Goliath was to run directly at him. This is an astonishing faith.
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground”.
1 Sam. 17:48
Many of us face a giant called guilt, pride, doubt, or despair.
Satan (our enemy) has marched out on the field of battle, confident of his ultimate triumph over us. We’ve been rightly tutored that there are enemies that can destroy us. I suppose that should terrify us. And we’ve also been indoctrinated to accept their control, and the inevitable slavery, with a spirit of timidity.
The ‘monster’ of despair is real and brutal. Our destruction is inevitable in his mind. Satan does expect to win over your soul, but Jesus stands as our advocate shielding us. We are saved because He wants us saved.
Yet so many believers cowed and intimidated, surrendering to the boastings of the giant Despair. Hope and faith are drained out of our being, and we become an empty spiritual shell. The “warfare” dimension gets nullified, and soon irrelevant. Despair reaches us and has the full intention of taking total control. It’s never satisfied with just a little bit.
He passed through the dark intimidation and influence to approach Goliath. There was no passiveness or doubt to cloud his mind. David took a spiritually aggressive position, he took on the fear, and then ran directly at the giant Goliath. His spirit was untouchable.
As believers, we might struggle and pout. We can turn our hearts over to despair. We become available to the enemy’s workings. And the confidence we might have through faith is dissipated into doubt and confusion. But the victory we have in Christ allows us liberty, through the Blood of Him who defeats our own Goliath of despair.