Thursday, March 24, 2016

Despair and Worry

Everyone who knows me intimately knows that I can be stubborn and whiny.  I would make a wonderful Israelite wandering in the wilderness.  I realize that doesn't make me a shining example of what a Christian should be, but before you brush me off, sit and have tea with me for a bit because you may find yourself in similar circumstances.  We may also come to realize that our position is more precarious than we think.

I have two sides; the sane side that trusts and hopes in God implicitly and the stubborn & whiny side that wallows in the mire of my circumstances.  Lately, I have been fighting to not drown in that mire, whining and crying all the while. This morning I chose to meet my husband at Panera to work on my Bible study while he worked on his on studies.  I dreaded this because for me to be in public at 7am and be both cognizant AND pleasant is a challenge and because last week's lesson just didn't seem very applicable for me (but then, I hadn't applied myself either).

As it turned out, the lesson so far has been just what I needed.  Our study this week is in the first few chapters of Numbers and points to what sparked the years of wandering in the wilderness and the denial of access into the promised land of rest.  It was their lack of faith in God to deliver what He had promised.  I remember as a child thinking that the Israelites must have been stupid to have seen the hand of God deliver them from the hands of Egyptians with huge miracles and then cower at the thought of taking Canaan, but aren't we just like them?  As an adult, I am struck by how serious God takes our trust in Him and our worship of Him as evidenced by the consequences of those infractions.

Sometimes, I find myself dwelling on my present circumstances and worrying, even to the point of despair. While this is not uncommon  in the life of the Christian at times, it is a dangerous place to unpack our bags and live.  The Israelites' lack of faith led to the hardening of their hearts and kept them from entering into the promised land of God's rest.  Hebrews 3 warns of this in direct reference to the faithless hearts and subsequent wandering of the Israelites:

  "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:12-13

This is not to say that the Christian will never fall and despair or find it difficult to trust God.  Even David, a man after God's own heart, had to talk back to himself as he struggled with faith.

  "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are in turmoil within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.  My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon from Mount Mizar." Psalm 42:5-6

David, when distraught, not only told himself to trust in God, but also began to recount God's past faithfulness.  As Christians today, it easy to get beat down by the world and become afraid.  It is during those times that we need to talk back to ourselves and not only remind ourselves of God's promises for our future but also His past faithfulness to us and our believing ancestors to keep our hearts from being hardened against Him.