Pessimistic. Weary. Frustrated. Cynical. Depressed.
I’m encountering lots of people feeling an assortment of these emotions, and I confess to feeling more than one of the above myself as winter nights, gloomy days, end of year deadlines and the Christmas rush combine into a toxic gloom!
When we feel like this we can be tempted into giving up.
- Giving up on serving God and others.
- Giving up on seeking holiness, obedience, and spiritual maturity.
- Giving in to laziness, self-pity, and irritation with others.
Christians should give up when the going gets tough.
But NOT in any of the ways I’ve just listed! The reality is that we do get tired, overworked, and overwrought. We are finite, flawed individuals, and exhaustion and stress strip away the layers that we use to disguise this most of the time!
Yet the Bible calls Christians to give up in a different sense:
- We are to give up on our own strength and resources being sufficient.
- We are to give up on trying to please God by our own merits alone.
- We are to give up on self-made productivity and achievement.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Instead when we our insufficiency is exposed, we are to rejoice in the sufficiency of our God! We are to rest in his provisions and his power.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Our weakness should remind us of our desperate need for a saviour, one who is our Lord, Master and friend. We should give up on ourselves and draw close to our God. In him are new stores of help . . . but he sometimes waits to bestow them until we are humbly conscious of our need.
Like Martha, Jesus’ harried hostess in Luke 10, we often need the reminder to stop rushing around and ‘choose what is better’ – to sit at Jesus’ feet. (Maybe never more so than at Christmas!)
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Even though our challenges may continue and our worries remain, the Bible promises us that God’s mercies are new every morning, and that he is steadfast and faithful. He is our living water that never runs dry and the bread from heaven that ever sustains!
Have a joyful, peaceful Christmas!