Thursday, September 2, 2010
Discouragement in the Faith
Don't tell me that you haven't experienced this! I remember one day traveling on the bus. It was hot. I was tired after a long day hauling steel in the open sun. I recognized a woman ahead of me as a member of the Baptist church around the corner. She was in good spirits and I recall her saying, "Doesn't the Lord just get better with each new day?"
I didn't want to hear that. I had worked hard for my pity party and was not going to have it de-railed so easily. I kept my conversation to a minimum. But upon stepping off the bus and finishing the last three blocks, I began to be puzzled by my condition.
Saints remember! Self-pity is a threshold to a host of sins and spiritual coolness. Also a sense of being the odd one out in a gathering because of standards set by the Word. Also a time of persistent reproach for righteousness sake. Also a period of physical weakness or ill health; unanswered prayer; or the sense of nothing new in the way of revelation or opportunity for service. Also overmuch time given to worldly diversions or recreation.
Surprisingly, you will find yourself in distinguished company. Moses was tired of the people's complaining and struck the Rock the second time contrary to God's instruction. David was disinclined to fulfil his kingly duty in battle one springtime, and found himself wandering the rooftop and spying out Bathsheba. Soloman felt the loneliness of his exalted position and the fruitlessness of worldly undertakings. Elijah had undergone a taxing competition with the priests of Baal. A wonderful victory at Carmel, but one which left him spent and fearful of Jezebel's recriminations. John the Baptist, having sustained the good report, found himself in Herod's prison wondering if Jesus were in fact the Messiah. Paul coming to Corinth, was overwhelmed by the predominance of idolatry and vice, and became timid and silent for a season.
But eventually God's word and re-assuring presence came to each one of these heroes; fresh commissioning and strength to continue.
The previous posting displayed some of the struggle of the Scottish preacher Rutherford. He realized that only God could rescue. Restore the wind. Fill the sails. But he also recognized that it was entirely healthy to lay his predicament before another trusted saint, asking for prayer and counsel. Too often we dismiss such a measure as "bad testimony".
But friends, our Lord wants us to tell the truth, in prayer, in confession before others, in thinking the situation through in one's private time. He will not allow you to be tested beyond that which you are able to bear. Don't let the ordeal tempt you to withdraw from spiritual exercise. Rather, intensify it. Not too long into the process, the Holy Spirit will bring the quickening. Only believe that God is love, and more than able, and intimately aware of your situation. Talk to Him about it.
And yes, today I am that dry leaf...
(Some help is found in Psalms 42 and 43 composed for the singing Sons of Korah)