Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfall; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh… We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
(2 Cor 10.3&5)
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing…. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thess 5.8-11,16-18)
In these summer days, my heart is full:-
Joy in the beauty of creation builds in my spirit as I bask in sunshine, swim in crystal clear waters over white sands, watch the growing and maturing plants in my garden and hear the birds calling from every thicket. I see the mountains across the waters, and the trees that cling to the hills like thick green fur; I see the moon rising full and palest yellow as the sun dips briefly below the horizon and the summer night begins.
Praise for the maker of creation rises in my heart as I delight in his power and artistry, and experience the blessing of beauty, light and growing things in satisfying my soul.
Heaviness at the prospect of leaving this place drags at my heart, threatening to drain the joy from each moment of pleasure and to cause the days to fly past.
Love for the friends who have been given to me here fills my heart, all their generosity, their kindness to me and their beauty as God’s children – whether they know and acknowledge him or not.
Grief for my friends here who follow Jesus and feel bereft at our departure; and deeper grief for those who do not know him, and who have not chosen to trust him for their eternity, yet. These griefs well up in my heart, continually pressing on me and clamouring for my attention.
There is a deep longing to be obedient, fruitful, and God-glorifying in all I do, which in these days of uncertainty is quickened to urgency as I seek to find the path, as I have to wait on his direction and perfect timing.
In the midst of all this, I am called to be thankful in everything, in order to fulfil his will for me. How can I do this when I am subject to such a mixture of emotions all the time and every day? Paul gives me instructions, and the means to fulfil them as well, by reminding me that as the Holy Spirit dwells in me, and I follow day by day, I will bear fruit, in Christ-likeness. Part of that fruit is self-control, not a very popular notion, but central to our maturing as believers. By the Spirit, I can choose to recognise, acknowledge and then step away from those emotions which threaten to overwhelm and distract me from obedience and to silence my thanksgiving. Because Christ died for me, and lives in me by his Spirit, I can choose to exercise my will in order to trust. My emotions do not have mastery over my will, my thoughts can and shall be directed by the truth of the gospel which has saved me.
Therefore I will choose thankfulness for God’s compassion for me, his own child and creation. All that is welling up in me, conflicting and disturbing; all the mixture of pain and joy which is the human condition, this is known to him and completely understood. My reactions are not a surprise to him, because he knows how I am made. I can therefore pour it all out before him, full of thankfulness for his acceptance and love, and confident that he can guide and keep me through this season of upheaval and uncertainty.