by Pastor Tim Burt
One day as I was driving to a meeting, I was pulling onto a ramp entrance to a four lane freeway. As I was heading down the lane to merge into traffic, I saw something ahead that was hard to make out. As I got closer, I could see that it was a mother duck leading her baby ducklings across the ramp toward the center of the freeway with rush hour traffic going on. Even if she could have crossed all the lanes which wouldn’t have been possible, the freeway was divided by a tall cement medium. She was walking them into a death trap. I can only figure that she became disoriented since it made no sense. I pulled along side of her on the left to honk and try to scare them back to the side of the road which worked. As I was driving away, the experience launched me into deep thought.
I suddenly found myself thinking about people I’ve known—people who were in desperate situations making make decisions that made absolutely no sense to anyone but themselves—desperate decisions that would only make things worse. Difficult times don’t discriminate. They show up in everyone’s life at one time or another. And unfortunately, the feeling of desperation only makes things worse. Let me share three factors that contribute to desperate people making desperate decisions that make things worse. They are: 1) poor self-esteem, 2) fear, and 3) hopelessness.
Poor Self-esteem Though most difficult situations do not happen overnight, they can as the Corona virus has proven. When situations begin to erode, whether quickly or over time, people begin to feel squeezed and can’t seem to find a good way to escape it. They lose confidence in themselves to be able to figure out any kind of way out! In those moments, the devil will highlight every should-have, could-have, working to make them feel like a failure whose entire world is going to blow up. It’s incredible that the most confident and self-assured person can suddenly second-guess every thought and action and quickly wallow in the pond of no self-esteem. This really does happen to the most confident people in desperate times. The devil is the master at torturing the mind.
Fear The self-esteem has deteriorated from low to nothing, and now fear has begun to root into their emotions. The fear of more bad news screams in their mind at every turn. This is when people begin to defy any common sense and make knee-jerk decisions they haven’t prayed about that are disastrous in the making. The devil loves when they begin to question and blame God. God, how could you be letting this happen. I thought you loved me and are with me. This kind of emotional thinking left unchecked will seriously deteriorate their faith in God. They ‘re no longer thinking of God and the big picture. They are only thinking of temporary relief even if it makes no sense.
Hopelessness When people are facing circumstances that make them feel desperate, and they stop looking to God and let the evil reports that come direct their every step, they are just a few more steps away from feeling hopeless. They can’t see things improving without making some kind of radical decision that really solves nothing and even makes things worse. Hopelessness makes you feel like you have to something radical, even if it’s insane. It’s often a last ditch effort to manufacture their own miracle. Thus, disastrous decisions are made that steal life!
Jesus spoke simple but powerful life-changing words to bring supernatural comfort and hope in desperate times. He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
Jesus knew He was the solution to their fears, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. He wanted to take their back breaking-yokes and burdens upon Himself and help restore their trust and faith in Him. He said His burden was light meaning He would help restore confidence in Him, not in ourselves; and faith that in the long game. He’d never leave nor forsake us and He would be our help in times of trouble!
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT encourages us not to be like people who have no hope saying, “And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen… so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope.” God never wants us to lose hope! Psalm 31:24 NLT says, “So be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” He is our hope!
Self-esteem that comes from anywhere other than the Lord is pride! Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” Every good thing we do, we do because the Lord helps us whether we realize it or not! It’s only when we reverence the Lord and lean constantly on His help, that we know He is the source of all we have. This is the place where real self-esteem is built—where we can have strong confidence—not in ourselves but confidence in Him as our helper in all things! Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) says, “In the fear (reverence) of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.”
Finally, fear must be cast out of our life. Why? Because it’s destructive! 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” Did you see that? “Perfect love drives out fear…” This isn’t about us being perfect in love. It’s about God’s perfect love for us and our trust in that love. When you trust that God loves you and cares about every situation in your life—when you believe that He is there to help you in every situation despite how desperate things look, then you are walking in His perfect love. It drives out fear.
Desperate times manage to find their way into our life like water finds cracks. In those times, you can become fearful, hopeless, and let your esteem be destroyed. It will lead you to make disastrous decisions. Or, you can hope in the God of all hope, build your esteem and confidence by learning to pray and lean on Him, and be one to cast out fear. If you do, then even in desperate times, you can make sound decisions knowing that the Lord will help restore your life and circumstances to a better place!
Psalm 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.“
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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