“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) Mixing elements of true worship of God with practices unacceptable to Him is man’s attempt to bring him God’s favor. In dry times when I cannot feel God or hear Him, I try desperately to control my negative thoughts, often using the coping strategies so common now. I listen to calming music, practice breathing techniques, and use muscle relaxation exercises to ease the tension that grips my shoulders. Yet only when I meditate on God’s word do I receive the physical relief and quietness of soul that I seek.
There are other times, however, when the pressures of work, concerns for family, and health issues pour over me. I can relate to the lament of Ethan the Ezrahite in the Psalms. “Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men? What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psalm 89:47-48) My fears rise, and I am in danger of becoming despondent and disillusioned. In answer to my cries for help, God’s Holy Spirit prompts me to look to God for deliverance, to surrender to His will, and to wait.
I am strengthened and reassured once more remembering how God demonstrated His faithfulness and fulfilled His promises to save us. Not at our expense, though we may suffer. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son paid the ultimate price for our ambivalence and unbelief, to deliver us from the power of the grave, and without a doubt, to show God’s favor to us all.
For Christ was arrested while praying in a garden to God the Father; charged with blasphemy by religious leaders, condemned though innocent by political rulers, scourged by soldiers to the point of death, mocked, spat on, and forced to wear a thorny crown. This before dragging His own cross up a hill where He was nailed to its wood and hung there until dead. (Mark 15:9-33)
Of course, crucifixion was not the end of an historical account of Christ…nor are my troubles left hopelessly in the dark. But remembering the darkness of that bitter Friday is as necessary to me as envisioning Christ’s brilliant burst from the tomb. For through it all, my spirit is lifted with that as the Apostle wrote, “…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39)
Father God, I cannot fathom the love You have for me. You would allow Your own Son to suffer to bring me near to You forever. I adore You; I trust You; I worship You. Please forgive me if I fail to obey Your prompting or to speak Your word. Let the strength of my testimony be that You have saved me and filled me with Your steadfast love. Christ Jesus, there is no other name but Yours by which I am saved.