“I know, perhaps, as well as anyone what depression means and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet, at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace which no pain or depression can in the least disturb. Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul. Though upon the surface, a rough tempest may be raging, and there may be little apparent calm.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Oh, the uncertainty of life; the constant feeling of vulnerability, and yes, even dread. Awaking from sleep each day apprehensively, not knowing what the day holds. Will there be sudden disaster today, sickness, a setback? Or will today prove to be calm, peaceful, and happy? One never knows. It is this uncertainty that seems to add a measure of sadness, uneasiness, and stress to life. When turmoil does arise, it only confirms and strengthens this inner dread. After a few years of this cycle, it tends to make life seem like less of a gift and more of a drudgery to endure. I suppose that’s just human nature… to become weary. Even the Apostle Paul had times when he despaired of life.
Paul wrote: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us…” (2nd Corinthians 1:8-10).
Hard-hitting blows in life bring us low. But, even if we’re troubled on every hand, the Lord strengthens us so we do not perpetually distress. Life is perplexing, but He keeps us from despairing non-stop. God somehow provides respites along the way and a secret place to hide in prayer. We are somehow sustained through it all and our faith in God becomes our only source of survival. People – and yes, the enemy of our soul, persecutes us by various means. The ultimate, demonic goal is to make us lose hope, faith, trust, love, and commitment to the Lord. All Hell will break loose, at times, in order for the satanic powers to sabotage us and drive us into a deep pit. If such evil powers prevail, it will result in God’s children renouncing Christianity, giving up on prayer, losing their trust in God, and they will soon become completely hopeless. They may even take the enemy’s side in his hatred toward God. But know this, God is able to keep us from falling as we realize our complete need for depending upon Him alone. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…” (Jude 1:24).
Even though we endure persecutions, afflictions, and tribulations, we are never forsaken. “…for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Our fleshly minds try to divert back to doubt, sin, unbelief, and a barrage of false thoughts. Such thoughts recycle in the mind and bring torment. We can only take them captive by God’s grace. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…” (2nd Corinthians 10:5). No amount of positive thinking, will-power, or self-help books will drive the despair out of us when we are in the low points of life. It is God, alone, who (quite literally) keeps us sane.
Though the accuser of our soul taunts us and seems to get the upper hand, we are never God-forsaken. He will never leave us comfortless. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Though we are, oftentimes, cast down… we are not destroyed. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2nd Corinthians 4:8-9).
I will be the first to admit that I do not always handle stress and life’s disasters with the most grace. I become fearful, angry, and even downright despondent, at times. Although I understand that I am a work in progress, still, I get very frustrated at myself. I will think to myself, “Where’s your faith? Why are you despairing like this? You are such a phony!” But then, the Lord gently reminds me… though I fall apart, I always do so in His arms. I never leave God out of the equation. I may be kicking and screaming and reacting foolishly… still, at the end of the day, I look for Him and run to Him. In the worst moments of life when I find myself desolate and curling up in the fetal position… I find that I have curled up under the shelter of His wings. I do not say this to brag on myself, but to testify to God’s keeping power. He draws me to Him with a magnetic love and care which I find nowhere else.
Those times when I’ve cried until I’m numb and feel too devoid of strength to even pray – I trust. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China who had his fair share of troubles. He once said, “I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.” I like that… I find that I can, at least, trust.
Surviving the setbacks of life is possible when we keep ourselves built up on the most holy faith. Elder Zac Poonen from CFC Church in India once quoted a saying that was known in the Indian Navy. It said, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you will bleed in war.” In other words, prepare spiritually when times are good – because they may not always be so. I find it of utmost importance to keep myself built up through the reading of God’s Word, the hearing of anointed sermons, singing praises and hearing them sung, prayer, and keeping God first and foremost in my mind at all times.
When life presents storms, I don’t always think clearly or react well. Nonetheless, when the storm passes, I find that my faith in God is still intact. I find Him to be more and more precious and trustworthy. My soul thirsts hard after Him. I must have God lest I die. The gates of Hell do not prevail against me – hallelujah! I want you to know this too. As long as you keep your communication line with God open, you are winning! We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Although you may cry bitter tears, as long as they fall upon His shoulder, then you are winning over satanic devices which were meant to tear you down, destroy your faith, and pull you away from His tender care. Although deep fatigue sets into every fiber of your being from the setbacks of life and from fighting the good fight of faith – you still find yourself resting in Him; thus, you are winning! You are victorious even if you feel far from it; because God says so! Hear Him loudly proclaiming His love for you by His quiet comfort and care. As the old song says, “Though I walk through a valley with a heavy burden, I can feel the touch of His hand.” As long as we keep running to Him, we are winning and our faith is thriving!
“I Can Feel the Touch of His Hand” by J.D. Sumner & the Stamps Quartet
Video Song: “Master of the Wind” by Candy Hemphill Christmas