Trying to keep a right attitude in these uncertain times is a challenge. I am sure I am not the only one battling anxiety, these days. Being a Christian isn’t about being optimistic or pessimistic, it is about living with hope. Christians live with hope, not because we think everything will always be rosy, but because we know that God is in control. We believe that God loves us and has a purpose for the events in our lives. I don’t want to allow anxiety to get a foot-hold. Each day I am more determined to face whatever comes with courage, faith, and trust, so that my life might honor God. I think of what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:20, “. . .it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” That is a tall order, but I do best when I aim high.
In this current international crisis, I find myself drawn more than ever to Scripture. I don’t write this to boast; I want to be an encouragement. I have spent my adult life struggling with depression, and part of that includes having problems with anxiety. I am not doing perfectly under these stressful conditions, but I see how far I have come and how much God is at work in my life. Doing my best to immerse myself in God’s Word is what has allowed me to grow in faith. I hope that you will be encouraged; God gives peace, comfort, and strength to those who seek Him.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:26-28, 31
In the midst of difficulty, I fear that some believers view Romans 8:28 as just another platitude – simple words that cannot ease the trial. But this verse, and the passage in which it is nestled, should be a sweet hope and comfort in whatever we face. These are Romans 8 times, and it is important to see that this portion of God’s Word is not telling us to “suck it up” or “get over it” when times are tough. It doesn’t say we should never grieve or cry to God from our suffering. Instead, it gives us hope in the promise of the goodness of God to those who believe. And Paul didn’t write, “Sometimes things will work together for good,” or “I think that if you love God things will probably work out for good.” Instead it is written, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. . .” So we grieve and cry with hope.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” And, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” These are rhetorical questions because nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (v. 39) We have these promises that, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (v. 37) This passage is brimming with the hope and victory that we have in Jesus Christ. If our hearts are attuned to this, we will “Count it all joy. . .when [we] meet trials of various kinds, for [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3) It is important that James doesn’t name the ‘various’ trials. Whatever it might be, we are to rejoice in the strengthening of our faith.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, [or sickness!] or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35, 37-39
In addition to meditating on these verses that I know well, in this uncertain and stressful time the Psalms have been sweeter to me. During some of my lunch breaks at work, I have found myself turning to Scripture and ending up in Psalms. These buoy my spirit and give me strength to face what lies ahead. What keeps washing over me these past couple of weeks, is a sense of thankfulness. I see God’s faithfulness all around me. Psalms 50:14 instructs us, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” That is what I have been trying to do. Those who know me know that I am always singing. But now, more than ever, I am singing praises to God because the songs remind me of God’s promises and His faithfulness. Songs and thanksgiving are my chosen weapons against fear and worry. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I can call to mind a song that reminds me of the truth I know from Scripture. I hope that I am not the only believer who wants to live out the lyrics of Matt Redman’s song Louder, which state: “And the greater the storm / The louder our song.”