by Pastor Tim Burt
Have you ever been in some kind of early evening activity such as softball or golf, or been in your car driving as when the sun has started to go down? As the sunlight begins to diminish, it quickly gets harder and harder to see clearly. That’s also what happens during tough times. When things get tough, it’s like there is an attack on your imagination. Things seem to get dark because of all sorts of discouraging thoughts flooding your mind. Confusion often sets in and it seems more and more difficult to know what to do. If you don’t purpose to remember that God has not left you and you are not alone, you can quickly start to feel like you are being swallowed in darkness and hopelessness.
Staying close to God through His Word, through prayer, and through fellowship with other Christians is a lifeline—especially at times like this! People often begin to withdraw when they feel discouraged. They begin to isolate themselves—the opposite of what they should do! Far too many people fail to realize that their friends in God are often led by the Holy Spirit to be a source of encouragement and reminder of God’s love. And because they fail to recognize this, they begin to think wrong hopeless thoughts. Before long, that darkness and discouragement causes them to withdraw and loneliness and a sense of abandonment sets in. And you know what happens then? The imagination leads you to offense. You being to feel upset and mad at people at imagine the world going down the tubes! And then those mad feelings begin to become the feelings of offense. Offense sets in—offense toward God and the very friends that could help you. God and friends are not the problem! The Apostle Paul understood this truth. He’d been through countless times of discouragement, including beating and stoning and betrayal by religious people. And so, understanding how the devil operates in times of darkness, he prepared himself to deal with those time the right way! Consequently he determined never to fall into this trap. Instead he said, “… I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:16 NKJV) Paul refused to remain offended at anyone!
All of us have experienced discouragement. All of us have been disappointed in our expectations of how things turn out. It’s easy to get discouraged, but yielding to hopelessness, isolation, and offense have to be resisted. We have to believe that God will make and show us a way to a better place. We can and should because He promises to help and deliver us. We see God’s Word promise His help again and again. Psalms 37:40 (NKJV) “And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.”
No one that has faith in God’s Word and truly seeks Him, becomes hopeless. To the person who lives by faith and truly seeks God, God does not live in the shadows. He is not hidden, nor is He far away. God reveals Himself to a seeker. He reveals Himself through His Word, through prayer, through answer to prayer, and through other seekers of God. He reveals Himself to the one who lives by faith! When a person becomes hopeless, he has drifted from God. He has drifted from seeking God. He has drifted from searching, meditating on and having faith in the promises of God. I don’t care how big the problem is and how difficult a situation may seem, to the seeker of God by faith, God is near and no situation is hopeless.
In Jeremiah 18:12, the Lord is not pleased with His people. He is not pleased because they have stopped trusting Him. Little by little they have drifted from Him. Some stopped paying attention to His ways and drifted over to other gods because in their minds, He was not moving fast enough or in the way they wanted. Others stopped thinking about any god whatsoever. They ended up leaning on themselves for their own wisdom in everything.
In Jeremiah 18:12 (TLB), We can listen in on what the Lord says to them. The Lord is speaking to His people echoing what is coming from their hearts. He says what they are saying about Him: ”Don’t waste your breath. This is hopeless. We have no intention whatever of doing what God says. We will continue to live as we want to, free from any restraint, full of stubbornness and wickedness.”
The reason hopelessness displeases God so much is that when left undealt with, it will always lead to deception and lead someone away from God. When a person thinks their problem is bigger than God can handle or solve, they are caught up in spiritual pride and selfishness. Your problems aren’t too big for God. If you think He is too slow or doesn’t care, you just don’t know Him well enough to know what a lie that is. You don’t know Him well enough to know that His love for you was powerful enough for Him to give His only begotten Son Jesus to die for you.
Draw near to God today. Cry to Him from your heart. But then ask Him to lead you through His Word to speak to your heart. Ask Him to send those that know Him to speak into your life. Don’t forsake the process of seeking Him. It’s not something you can delegate. Run to Him! Get back to Church! Ask Him to help you break out of isolation and back into fellowship with those that know and love God! As James 4:8 (NKJV) says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” He is our blessed hope in all things!
Psalms 9:10 (NIV) “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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