One doesn’t need to turn on the news anymore to know that we are in tough times. Log on to Facebook, scroll the news feed on your cell phone, or attend a social function and you inevitably hear of the latest shooting, terrorist act, or issue of moral decay.
If you have ever felt desperate for hope amidst all of the dark news, then then you are in good company. As the times get darker, more and more people will feel desperate for hope. This is actually a good thing; I have been encouraged lately in remembering that difficult times and persecution often result in God moving in unprecedented ways.
Christians Need the Gospel too
Suffering has a way of making us desperate for Jesus. Sometimes I forget that I am just as much in need of the Gospel today, as before I accepted Christ into my life. Yes, we acknowledged our need for Jesus when we first gave our life to Him, but the thing is: we still need Him! Every second, of every hour, of every day!
I haven’t struggled the way I see my brothers and sisters in Christ suffering in other places around the world. Places where people are being murdered, slayed, raped, and tortured for being Christians. That kind of suffering scares me. It makes the deepest part of my bones tremble, and frankly I don’t know how I would react in such a situation. For my family across the globe, I know that many will be receiving a crown of eternal glory that will look FAR brighter than my own (II Corinthians 4:17).
But what happens when something like the loss of a job, a serious illness, financial struggle, a wayward son or daughter, or a personal betrayal enters our lives? Those kind of situations are circumstances which we are more likely to encounter. They are also perfect opportunities to open the wound in your weary heart and receive the healing balm of God’s message: Jesus is FOR YOU. He is NOT against You (Romans 8:31). You are experiencing this pain because God has something greater that He is doing in your life than you can perceive in this dark moment.
It is in the moments at 2 am when I have been on my knees, weeping, beseeching the Lord to relieve the pain or take me home to heaven . . . well, those were the very days that I felt a literal sense of being rooted by an anchor of deep-seated peace (Heb 6:19).
Those were the days that I felt as if I was carried by ethereal arms – not my own strength. Those were the days where I felt relieved of the burden of self, and bourne up by gentle hands that were larger than any human touch . Matthew 11:28-31 has always been one of my favorite passages of Scripture; it reminds us that God is gentle and humble in heart, and that He is here to carry your burdens and take care of your anxieties.
Let me tell you something, dear friend: God never intended for you to take over His job. You are not God . . . . but in order to get to that sweet spot of complete dependence on Him, He may allow trials in our lives to feed our desperation for Him, and learn the art of walking in the presence of the Lord. Yes, it is crazy hard. Who are we kidding?! But is it richly and consumingly satisfying in a way that hits your gut and shines from your soul?? Yes, it is.
Another benefit of dark times is the way that God often raises up people to pray, to make intercession, and beseech the Lord for revival and His Glory on the Earth. I don’t know about you, but that gets me so EXCITED. When I am tempted to give in to fear or hopelessness, I remember that God may be preparing to move in an unprecedented way. We can be motivated to pray – on behalf of those who are suffering and pleading to the Lord for Him to move for the sake of the elect.
Sometimes prayer pours out like gushing water. At other times, it feels as dry as the Sahara desert, and the words feel repetitive and powerless. Blah, bluh, blah ….. “God, am I making sense? God, are you even there?! God, please don’t act like my students did today: nodding their heads but tuning me out….please…..don’t!!” Even on the dry days, I still try to pray. Even if it’s as short as one line: “God, have your will and way in all things today.” Or “Lord, have mercy on us.” This is called prayer without ceasing (I Thess. 5:16-18).
If you don’t consider yourself a big prayer person, or if praying has always been difficult for you, it’s okay. Relax, amigo. B r e a t h e . Prayer doesn’t have to sound all articulate, contain the most complex theological lingua franca, and be 10 minutes and thirty seconds long every time you pray. Boof. I would fail if that were the case.
Pray as soon as you hear the news, even if it’s just under your breath and no one else hears. Pray as you drive and turn off the music for a bit. Pray for your friend with cancer before you eat lunch. Pray for your unsaved parents while you brush your teeth (praying silently while brushing the chompers can easily open a daily window for prayer…). Pray in the shower with your fingers on your head, all bubbly-like in shampoo. Pray for your friend as soon as he or she tells you their prayer request. Pray during a few daily, mundane tasks that don’t require heavy thinking.
This dark time is such a golden opportunity for the church in America to be made more like Christ and experience the sweetness of His fellowship when other things are taken away. It’s an opportunity to reach lost souls and cause the world to marvel at God within us amidst hardship.
A Prayer: God, help us to not live in fear about the future or forget that this is such a moment to shine brightly for the sake of the Gospel. Keep us from evil, Father, and grant us a fresh understanding of Jesus in our hearts.