Distracted by distress

Ten o'clock dawnImage by C-Ali via Flickr

Last night I talked to a lady from our church who is battling depression. I asked her why, thinking she was having financial challenges, or a disagreement with family members. Her answer surprised me. She said she’s “just so down” about the state of our nation, the political fracas, and the pervading apathy toward sin and the resistance to the Gospel of Christ.
This is a woman who knows the Word, who has overcome tremendous challenges in her life. I admire her. Why is this strong, faithful Christian mired in a pit of despair?
I asked if she’s been listening to a lot of news lately. Personally, I had to reset my browser so it wouldn’t bombard me first thing in the morning with tales of trauma and woe. She said she’s been listening to a lot of talk radio. Conservative talk radio.
Ah. That confirmed something to me. Instead of being a light and a source of peace to the world around us, we’ve jumped in the negativity pit, too, spending as much or more time hearing and declaring the “signs of the times” and pointing out the sin, failure, and shortcomings of our “enemies” as we do proclaiming the good news.
Try having a conversation that doesn’t include at least one negative comment about the president or the economy. Our speech is poisoned with bitterness, anger, and frustration.
And if our speech is poisoned, our hearts are poisoned.
Are we surrounded by bad situations and circumstances? Yep.
Do bad things happen to good people? Yep.
Are we in the end times? Could be.
Do things pretty much suck (pardon me) for a lot of folks right now? No question.
But consider this:

“And God spoke to Moses and said to him … ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” (Exo 6:2, 6-7)

That would be a good message to hear, right? I mean, if someone you trusted to hear from God’s spirit stood up and said God has promised to bring you out of whatever distress you’re in, wouldn’t you be pleased? But look at what happened.

“So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.” (Exo 6:9)

They were so focused on their circumstances, so distressed by what was going on around them, the children of Israel didn’t even hear Moses’ word to them from God. Are we guilty of the same? I think we might be.

Jesus said we WILL have trials and tribulations on this earth. He didn’t say we’d have the government we wanted. But He did say we are to honor our leaders. He didn’t say the economy would always go the way we wanted, but He did say we could trust God for our provision and supply even when there obviously wasn’t enough to go around. He didn’t say we’d never face plagues or destructive storms, only that He would be with us no matter what, and that faith in Him would be our victory.

So what should we be doing? I don’t want to be like the Hebrew children, who couldn’t even hear the good news God was sending them because they were so freaked out! What if God’s trying to tell you about your way out of the mess you’ve fallen in right now, but you are too miserable to hear Him?

Jesus gave us instructions for times like these in Luke 21:25-28 (Amp.)

“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth [there will be] distress (trouble and anguish) of nations in bewilderment and perplexity [without resources, left wanting, embarrassed, in doubt, not knowing which way to turn] at the roaring (the echo) of the tossing of the sea,
Men swooning away or expiring with fear and dread and apprehension and expectation of the things that are coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken and caused to totter.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great (transcendent and overwhelming power and [all His kingly] glory (majesty and splendor).
Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near.”

It’s interesting to note that references to the “sea” in Scripture are often references to a mass of people. There’s distress and confusion in the nations because of the echo of the sea. If that doesn’t describe the news media I don’t know what does! The world responds with fear and anxiety. We, however, aren’t supposed to dive in with them, but to look up (pray) and lift up our heads (praise). Why? Because we are the redeemed of the Lord. He’s coming to get us!

I got stuck at DIA last summer for about five hours in severe storms. It was late at night, and the airport was crowded with people who were tired, cranky, worried, and afraid. I wanted nothing more than to have someone come up to me and say, “Ma’am, a charter bus will be out front shortly to take you home. If you’ll just follow me.”

What would my reaction have been? I would have rejoiced at the revelation of my redemption! I had a way out! And, after I got done jumping around and hugging the messenger, I’d have probably offered a ride to anyone else going my way! Hmmm. Sounds like the gospel to me!

Don’t echo the voices of doom and gloom. Become a voice of redemption and hope. I like what I read in The Love Dare, “Are you a calming breeze, or a storm waiting to happen?” Jesus calmed the storm. And so can we. At least in our own hearts and maybe even in the lives of those closest to us. Look UP! Jesus is coming soon!

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