Monday, July 25, 2016
Today I was meeting with a strong brother in the Lord, and he shared with me how he was feeling a cloud of despair and almost depression due to all the bad things happening in the world right now. I don’t think he is alone in this feeling. Many are discouraged, anxious, fearful and sad. What is the world coming to? How many more bad things can happen? Is it even safe to go to the shopping center?
What does God’s Word say to us in such bleak times? What truths can we focus on to give us hope and encouragement?
1. Remember that God is in sovereign control.
I define sovereignty as He “so” “very” “reigns”. Yes, He gives us a free will, and our exercise of that free will brings about a lot of terrible things, but through it all, God is still in control. Joseph, who knew hardship well, said, “What man meant for evil, God meant for good, for the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Speaking of the “saving of many lives”:
2. Use the bad news as a platform for the Good News.
All that is going on can be a great conversation starter. Ask people, “Why do you think so many bad things are happening these days? What do you think is the root cause of all these problems in our world?” And from there you can offer the ultimate solution in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For only Jesus changes a heart, and a heart change is the answer to all the problems in the world.
3. Let all negative emotions drive us to the Word.
When I am down, I read the Psalms, because there I find a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who is often struggling, but also finding hope in God. I love the honesty of the Psalms. And I love how they all end in praise, despite how they might have started. Worship is a great way to lift the human spirit. God wants us to come to Him every time we struggle, so that we might experience Him in a new way. He is the God of hope (Rom. 15:13). His Word is the truth we need amidst all the uncertainty in our world. Spend a lot of time with God.
4. Be connected with a redemptive community.
Fellowship with Godly people is so helpful during hard times. We need the support of others. We need a place where we can be brutally honest about our struggles. We need the wisdom others can provide. We need to find out what others are doing to stay strong. We are called to “bear one another burdens” (Gal. 6:1). I think my friend left our meeting today feeling a little better, because he had been with two brothers who loved him and the Lord.
5. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebr. 12:2).
This one is what I need the most right now. I can so easily “fix my eyes” on the elections, terrorism, mass shootings, racism, etc. So much is happening so fast in our world, that it is tempting to fix our eyes on the news instead of on the Lord Himself. Hebrews 12:2 comes after verse 1 where it says to “put aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us and run with endurance.” We must not only put aside sin, but we must also put aside any weight that holds us back. What weight do you need to lay aside in order to run more freely?
6. Ask God what He wants you to do.
We can easily get overwhelmed by all the sin and problems in the world that it almost immobilizes us. We can feel like there is nothing we can do to help. But this is not true. One of the best ways to fight depression is to do something positive. There is a role for each of us to play in providing solutions and help. We must find our niche in the work of God. We must put our hands to the plow, and discover what God would have us do to make a difference, even if in just one life!
7. Maintain an eternal perspective.
Do not forget that we know how it all ends. We have read the final chapter of the Book (Revelation 21). There is a heaven, and this is not it. But there is a heaven that does await all Christ-followers. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled …. For I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2). Jesus encourages our troubled hearts by reminding us of heaven. All evil and sin and Satan will one day be destroyed …. Forever. And one day righteousness, peace, joy and the Presence of Jesus will reign forever! Be certain that you are going to heaven by repenting of your sins and trusting in Christ alone for your salvation. And if you are one of His, lift up your head and rejoice at what awaits you!
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-30