No-one’s named me ‘Oracle’. Nobody’s calling me ‘Sage’. I don’t proclaim to be wise. But there’s something I have observed throughout my 36 years as a Christian. I’m not claiming to be right – only that what I have noticed, speaks loud and clear.
Seeing so many Christians sway under the burden of their circumstances and then get attacked with guilt or fear as their branches almost snap, I have come to realise that the road to victory can be a long journey.
We know that Jesus has won the battle for us, so head-knowledge is not the problem. It’s failing to claim those promises and apply it to our lives that can have many of us floundering around in the dark.
It hasn’t gone!
The popular verse,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
is ever present in the ears. It seems that it’s not the truth of the words that people struggle with, but the fact that despite the prayer, petitions and thanks, they are still feeling the same way.
Psychologists have a phrase that describes the panic they witness in people who are struggling with phobias of every kind. They end up with having a fear of fear.
Likewise, the overwrought Christian begins to feel guilty that they are so troubled, which leads to further tension. So the end result is being anxious about being anxious.
Let’s have grace
That scripture above is true because God doesn’t lie. If we do the things he tells us to, we’ll get that promised peace. So how come it doesn’t always ‘work’? Well, for some, their agitation is huge. So to recite that verse to someone in need is accurate, but not always helpful to the one who believes it, but cant receive it. And if we quote it out of frustration, that is going to make matters worse. None of us want to be like Job’s friends – so insensitive that we upset the person more and anger God.
At school, my 8 yr old daughter recently went through an intense week of exams called Statutory Assessment Tests. I was uneasy about the whole thing. Then I applied this verse to my heart and it worked. The words are true and God means what he says. However I think the reason it was so easy to administer this to my life is because I was only perturbed a little. So I meditated on it, prayed and thanked and I had complete peace.
We who are on the outside must take great care with our speech. We need to pray for those going through the dark tunnel of adversity and who are only able to focus on the seen. The unrest gnaws at their soul and prevents them from receiving the full promise. They are disquieted on every level and a large black cloud of sadness hovers over their head. Supplicating on their behalf is like Aaron holding up the arms of Moses, and this will prevent us from getting irritated with the person for appearing to be in the same state and not being able to break through to serenity.
The state of placidity God wants to give us makes no sense in light of what is going on around us, that is why he says ‘surpasses all understanding’ But it is vital because it will keep our hearts and minds safe. Guilt brings on depression. So does fear of the future, fear of loneliness, fear of shame, and the pressure to perform to a certain level of competency.
God doesn’t want us to have nervous breakdowns. But that is out of love and compassion for us, not worry that we’re going to give him a bad name.
Embarrassment? I hope not.
None of us can foretell how we will cope if that person’s life was transferred to ours.
I pray that I will never be ashamed of someone who is suffering in a way I don’t understand.
As the tears flow onto my shoulder, I hope that I will always be more concerned about the person’s grief than how it makes me look, having a friend who ‘can’t hold it together’, and a jacket that needs drying.
Job’s three friends were very eloquent in speech and reputation. Yet God told them, “As much as you have rejected him with your insensitive actions and words. As much as you have been unapproachable and of no support whatsoever, you have been like this… to me.”