When you stop and look around at the world and certainly this past year, it can be discouraging. The morals in our culture are not slowly eroding, they are rapidly evaporating. Violence, hatred, abuse, sexual exploitation, alienation: there is no peace on earth. It makes you want to crawl in a hole or to want to leave this world.
I also see believers that are going through very, very difficult circumstances. They are financial and health issues, jobs lost, jobs being sought, rebellious children, and marriages that are in turmoil. My prayer list is long and heart wrenching. That is not to say that all is lost, because we know what the ending will be. But it gets tough in the trenches.
What do we say to these things? I read a quote from a Quaker who said, “God, I’m not surprised You have so few friends, because of the way you treat the friends You have.” Or listen to what Martin Luther said in his devotional Faith Alone, “Indeed Psalm 121:4 says, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps. But human reason responds, ‘That’s all fine and good. It even sounds nice. But I’m experiencing the exact opposite. God not only sleeps, He snores! In reality there isn’t a God who takes care of me or watches over me.”
Titus 2:12 says … renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in the present age. In my despair I sometimes say “Why?” That is a lot of effort for seemingly little return. When I get that way, I need to preach to myself these essential truths.
- God is the answer. There is no meaning, no perspective, no hope, no joy amidst all the confusion and chaos without Him. Life makes no sense without God.
- We belong to Him. He brought us salvation, He’s adopted us into His family. He has declared us righteous, free from guilt, forgiven, joint heirs with Him. We are no longer condemned or separated – or can be separated – from Him. He freely gives us all things. He redeems us.
- He loves me. How this is understated in Titus 2:14, “He gave Himself for us … He suffered, He endured the cross, He broke through all that Satan could throw at Him. He took on our sin, our rebelliousness. He took on shame, reproach, death, and separation from the Father. Yes, Jesus gave Himself, the Father gave His Son, and the Spirit is still giving – daily into our lives. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.
As you look forward to 2018, remember all the blessings of 2017. No matter the circumstances, we are truly blessed. Remember the words of Jesus to the Pharisee in Luke 7:47, “Therefor I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loved little.” I am forgiven. Happy New Year!