Last night, I felt exhausted. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Nothing happened. I just felt this weight all of a sudden, and all I wanted to do was hide in a corner and cry.
It occurred to me then that subconsciously, some part of me believed that the daily disciplines of the Christian life act something like a flu shot or some kind of immunization against a disease.
I thought that doing my daily devotions, praying and remembering God throughout the day would mean that I was, in effect, invincible. Nothing could throw me because I knew I had God on my side. I was immune, as it were, not to trials, but to the debilitating effect of them on my soul.
But even flu shots aren’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t get the flu. What they do is they try to protect your body and build its strength up so that even if the flu does come, your body is a little better prepared to face it.
Our relationship with God doesn’t mean that we won’t have troubles in this life. We will. Jesus is very clear about that – “In this world you will have trouble. No beating around the bush here. But He goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
He doesn’t say, “But don’t worry. Since you are my disciples, these things won’t bother you.” In fact, earlier on He’s even more explicit about the troubles we will face as His disciples. First, He warns that the world might hate us (John 15:18-19), then He says, “A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (John 16:2).
…Okay, that’s cool, Jesus. But I’ll be okay because I’m with You, right?
That depends on what we mean by “okay.” It doesn’t mean we’ll sail through life without acquiring any wounds or battle scars. In fact, if we do it right, we’ll probably have many.
But it does mean that we have a Saviour. It does mean that even through the trials, we are not alone, because He is with us. He carries us through the fire.
We should not be surprised when things wear us down, for we live in a kingdom whose ruler hates us. And so then when we are faced with difficulties, whether they be tangible things or just a weariness of the soul as I experienced last night, the thing to do is turn to God. Whether that means reading the Bible, praying with a friend, or hiding in a corner and crying with Him.
Grace for every moment. Back to the thought that carried me into this year. You see, it’s better this way. With immunization or a flu jab or something that is meant to be preventative, your health rests entirely on the existence and effectiveness of that medication. If you miss one round of it, it loses its effectiveness, even if you’d been pretty consistent until then.
But with God and His grace, even if you were rebelling right until the point where you face a difficulty and decide to turn to Him, your past isn’t held against you. Grace is given for the now. You don’t miss out on it because you haven’t done all the right things.
But wait, then what’s the point of doing devotions and praying when there’s nothing going on? Apart from the fact that we often don’t realize our need, the discipline of walking with Him every day is like building up a friendship. You wouldn’t be likely to turn to a friend you don’t really know, a friend you’re not quite sure you can trust yet. But if you’ve built up the friendship, then when trials come, He will be a natural choice.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!”