Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through – all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble that you’re in isn’t punishment, it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? …. [he] is training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
(Heb 12.2-11, The Message)
Father, this is your child. I am weary, disheartened and ashamed by my failure to live for you by faith.
Father, this is your daughter. I am full of tears, a great heaviness which is flowing out at the slightest opportunity.
Father, this is your redeemed, beloved, adopted one. I am filled with longing for the end to come, and yet dreading it because so many whom I love are in rebellion against you.
This week, I have given up fighting the tide. There is so much grief around, so much fear and pain. The tide of human evil is running high, and so the tidal wave of human suffering rears up to obscure the light. It feels as though faith is futile, and prayer pointless. All the comforts of the great story of God’s work in history, the narrative of redemption and transformation for eternal joy seem infinitely far removed from the raw pain and deadening burden of each day. They bring me no help, no strength for the day.
Where is wisdom in this situation for the believer who – in spite of floods of doubt and weariness – in her heart yet longs to be faithful to her Saviour, to glorify him, to learn whatever lessons he has for her in this time? Where is the light breaking through the clouds?
I choose to sit with my Father; to pour out my heart in shame and find that his arm holds me close and his voice speaks comfort and reassurance. I choose to recognise and resist the wiles of the enemy of my soul, who longs to bind me fast in darkness and immobility, prayerless and hopeless, numbed by pain into silence. I choose to emulate the psalmists who time and again bring lamentation and loss before the Lord, and in so doing, worship him in spirit and in truth. What good will it do me to lie and pretend to my Father that all is well?!! He alone sees and truly understands my situation; he knows why the burdens of this season are weighing so heavily on my nature because he made it.
Almighty God and Father, your beloved child creeps into your arms and cries tonight. In her weariness, be merciful and lift the burden for a time so that she may rest. Speak to her of your love and power to save the lost over whom she agonises; of your work around the world through your servants bringing aid and hope; of your work through those who do not recognise you, to achieve your purposes. Show her the light!
Gently remind her that her Lord Jesus himself endured great trials in order to save her and, that he will strengthen her too as she – like him- fixes her sight on your glory and promises. Deliver her from false guilt, that she might accept her weakness in humility, and thus depend so much more on you.
To be mature in faith, humble in service, loving at all times, and to glorify God in every circumstance. This is my earnest desire. Hear and answer, in Jesus’ name, Amen.