If there was a prize for “most negative blog title” I’d win it for sure with this one – sorry guys!
But please read on before you start worrying about me!
Isn’t this a lie we hear, feel, and start to believe when life gets difficult, or we can’t see any ready solutions?
This – and its many variations – are among Satan’s most effective lies.
Your situation will never improve. You can’t change. There is no way out of this.
He knows that if he can persuade the Christian that their struggle with suffering or sin is endless and inescapable, he’s got us where he wants us.
He can make us more discouraged, more vulnerable to sin, less faithful. Increasingly rebellious, bitter, or isolated from our God!
So what does the Bible say that will help us when we feel that discouraging wave of pessimism, or can’t imagine how our present situation might improve?
A verse I’ve repeated to myself a lot lately is Psalm 25:10: All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
Even in our lowest circumstances and deepest troubles, our God is doing us good! I don’t say that flippantly because I know sometimes we can barely imagine how this can be so – but that is why we need firm truths like this from scripture for such times.
I was talking with my (awesome) sister about this and she helpfully remarked that sinners like us are apt only to notice the second half of that verse – …toward those who keep the demands of his covenant – and immediately disqualify ourselves from its promise.
We know that we don’t keep all the righteous demands of God. But we must remember and rejoice that this is why Jesus came! He alone perfectly keeps all the demands of God’s law on our behalf! And although we must also strive for obedience as we follow God, we can rest in the finished work of Jesus, so that we might claim promises like this – All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful …
A New Consideration
I have also found the beginning of Hebrews 12 a great antidote to paralysing pessimism:
In this passage the author encourages Christians not to give up when things get rough, but to “…run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
There’s enough in these verses for a sermon, but it’s the beginning of verse 3 that I keep returning to. I have found this to be a simple and helpful thing to remember. When I catch myself thinking “things will never change, this trouble/ sin/ suffering is endless” I tell myself “Nim, consider Christ!”
Jesus endured greatest (seemingly senseless) suffering for the joy set before him. His suffering was necessary for his (and our) future joy!
He is now seated at the right hand of God in heaven, where he intercedes for us! Just spending time considering his character lifts us from despair – Jesus is perfectly wise, faithful, loving, just, strong, and merciful.
He is our example, but more importantly he is our certain hope for the future. I am running the race that he has completed. And my situation will surely improve with Jesus Christ guiding and sustaining me to the finish line!
Yours cheerfully (!)