As a Christian, I have sometimes struggled with seeing certain other Christians always portraying they are happy and jolly, speaking Christianese like ‘We thank the Lord’, ‘God is good’, ‘Hallelujah, bless the Lord’. I was always under the impression that they were either faking it or maybe there was something wrong with me or my faith. Did I really believe the way I was expected to, the way others did? Or was I just a doubtful and unbelieving Christian, not aware of the joy of the Lord or the sacrifice of Christ? Listening to a pastor preach yesterday, I think I finally closed the gap between my understanding and reality. I feel its worthy of sharing, in case there were other Christians like me, groping and not getting the clarity they need.
Have you ever heard sermons talking about the ‘5 steps to faith’ or ’10 steps to victory’ or 7 steps to a better walk’ etc. There’s a particular preacher I know, whose sermons are all about steps and stuff. I used to listen to such messages but got really discouraged when I had followed the steps a few times and didn’t get the expected results. Maybe I wasn’t thorough enough or my heart wasn’t right or whatever other reason might be responsible. I was just put off and stopped listening to such messages. I know now that what works for me is not following a number of steps or doing or not doing stuff. What works for me is being. Actually, knowing, being and doing. Funny, this was also learnt from another preacher, but I could relate with it.
The message is simple: Know the truth of the Word, Be a believer by setting your heart right with God and owning who you are in Him, then combine knowing and being by doing what the Word says. That way you can easily identify where you are missing it and make amends. Also, the part I like best, is that everything is centered on your relationship with God, so you can walk with Him through it all and know for sure that you’re not alone in your struggles.
So, what solution do I have to experience joy and encouragement on an ongoing basis? Look up! That’s what the preacher said. When you wake up in the morning and everything in you tells you that you are nothing and not deserving of a good day, you look up and remind yourself that it’s true. You don’t deserve a good day, but the One Who loves you more than you can ever love yourself has already gifted it to you. You only have to receive it. And even if the day still brings with it sorrow or pain, you can be assured that the One Who loves you is aware of it, and is working everything out for your good.
We have to encourage ourselves in the Lord our God. Whether conditions are good or not, we know that He is always there. Always watching out for us, rooting for us, never leaving nor forsaking us, never abandoning us. Even when there is pain and we feel constrained to ask, ‘Where are you, God?’ we can know for sure that He is right there, walking through it with us.
When Joseph was in the prison, the Bible says that the Lord was with him. (Gen.39:21) Of course Joseph may not have felt that the Lord was with him, especially in the light of the circumstances leading to his imprisonment, but God granted him favour with the prison warden. God provided some comfort for him in prison, and suitable conditions, so that he was not overwhelmed by the imprisonment.
God is faithful and He is Faithful and True. So faithful is what He does and Faithful is Who He is. We just need to constantly remind ourselves of that fact, even when the events around us try to cloud out that truth.
Everything that we face, everything that we have to contend with, everything that we struggle with cannot change the fact that God is with us. His thoughts towards us are of good and not of evil. His desire is that His plans for us come to pass. Those plans are all good. In His global and eternal plan for our lives, all things are working out for good. In our understanding and due to our limited sight, we may experience otherwise. But as we trust in His love and His faithfulness, we can bring this to the top of our mind and our consciousness: God is with us in this. And because He is, we will definitely come through, we will overcome, and we are victorious.
We need to continuously feed our faith and starve our fears. We need to control our thoughts, so that we dwell only on the positive and the thoughts that will lead us out of fear and depression, into peace and joy. Like someone said, when bad and doubtful thoughts come across our mind, as they definitely will throughout the day, we must not let them land. We must chase them away, like we do flies when they fly around our food. We cannot afford to ignore them, because if we do, they will land on our food and contaminate it. We must flick them away even before they land.
If we constantly meditate on the promises of God and think about all the things He has done in the past, all the things He is capable of doing for us, we will feed our faith. Our expectation of good will increase and even if our situation does not change, we will have the peace of God through it all. The good news here is that nothing actually remains the same. When we absorb the word like that, we are changed internally and eventually our situation changes, because the faith we express goes to work to affect our state of mind and our situation. We find that we are no longer so distressed about the situation. The peace that God offers kicks in. The peace that passes all understanding.
So it takes our effort on the one part, (we focus on the word and the faithfulness of God) and the other part is God showing the infallibility of His word by sending His life into the situation.
Have you felt discouraged lately? Don’t look at the situation or the magnitude of the problem. Look up! Look to God. He is the solution. He might not attend to the situation in the way you expect, but He will definitely come through. A friend had an accommodation issue once, and was praying to God for money to pay for a lease on an apartment. Instead of providing money, God moved a church member to offer her house to the family free of rent for a period. We must never limit God by our low expectations. There is nothing impossible with Him.
It would be good to know for sure that those ‘happy’ Christians are really living the word and believing for the best, and not just covering up their issues with Christianese. The differentiating factor will be the joy and the peace of the Lord which we experience and which would radiate through us to everyone we interact with. This ensures that we cross from religion to life! We have greater impact when people see that we are not faking it. And we have a better time because God’s peace is keeping us and His grace is abounding!
Praise be to God for His indescribable gift to us!!!