Just looking through the news this morning it is obvious that there is a lot of misery and suffering going on in the world. Christians are being killed for their faith, protesters are being killed because of their political stand, natural disaster victims are dying from lack of assistance and this does not include the people dying from famines, curable diseases, or simple neglect. We don't even need to look around the world to find it, just look to the street you live on. The lonely young adult lost in a world of drugs, kids stuck in the middle of parental violence, a teen hiding from a drunk, abusive mom, a senior who can't look after herself and has no one to help. It is all around us and can overwhelm us if we do not have eyes to see the good in the midst of the bad.
As disciples of Jesus we need to be careful as we consider the misery we see all around us because there are several ways of dealing with it. We can either stick out heads in the sand and ignore it, or we can allow it to overwhelm us and blame God, or we can look for what God is doing and join him there. As Christians we need to always maintain our understanding of things:
1. God did a great job with creation but we introduced the destructive force of sin when we rebelled
2. Sin has made the world a dark place where the worst of humanity breeds and grows
3. God made the decision at the beginning to give us the freedom of choice and is not backing down from this
4. Without infringing on our ability to choose, God is running a rescue mission to save those who want to be saved from the darkness.
5. Those who do accept rescue he has asked to join him in rescuing others
6. He has appointed a time when all this will end and we will have to give an account for our choices
7. In the meantime, the Light is hard at work in the midst of the darkness
Knowing this, as followers of Jesus, we must be careful in our attitude as we begin our day. We are involved in God's rescue plan. The world is filled with darkness but we are no longer under it's control because we have been saved from it. However, we must be careful because we can be contaminated by things from the darkness. We must be sure that we are watching our attitude and we are staying strong in our relationship with God. The best and most effective way of keeping your heart clear of anything that comes from the darkness is to maintain a heart of thanksgiving. Being thankful for every good gift above assures that you will maintain the much needed Father perspective. The psalmist wrote:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:1-3)
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily worship. I am telling you, as I meet with various Christians, I know who has been in worship and who has been neglecting this vital part of our relationship with God. Worship puts everything in perspective and reminds us that God is God and we are not. Worship has us coming to God with thanksgiving, having our troubled heart transformed with joy. If any of the darkness has been trying to take root it falls away as we remember all his goodness. God is good, all the time and his promises are guaranteed to us. Do you even know what those promises are? Learn them, know they are yours and be grateful for them:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)
Can't you feel your spirit desiring to rise up even as you read these simple words? Your flesh may not feel like it, you might think you don't have time, you may feel low, even depressed, but your spirit still pushes to have control so that you can rise in response to this worship.
People in this world will challenge your faith because they do not understand the story of God, man and the darkness. They cannot understand that the whole world is suffering because of rebellion and stubbornness as well as ignorance. They cannot understand that Jesus, the light of this world, is trying to rescue them despite themselves. They cannot see the things God is doing in the midst of all the suffering and misery. The can't see but you can. So don't concentrate on the misery we have brought to ourselves but instead look for the light, the great and positive things God is doing in the midst of the suffering. Look to him and join him in the mission.
Instead of being overwhelmed be part of the solution. Speak out against the things that enslave people. Men, take a stand against things like abuse, fatherlessness, pornography, and the many things men are part of. Volunteer at homeless shelters, look in on your elderly neighbours, have a conversation with that lonely adult, invite people to take part in your life so that they can encounter Jesus there. Women, there are so many good things you could be doing just on your street alone as you show the tender and compassionate love of God to those hurting in this world. And talk about Jesus, all the time. Let them know your motivation, share the story, let them know of God's rescue plan. In these things you will also find that your thanksgiving grows and your worship becomes sweeter still, as you see God rescue the lost one person at a time. How can we not start our day with thanksgiving and praise when we realize that our God has not given up on this race of fools?
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The darkness cannot overwhelm those who are centered on the Light of this world. You are filled with the Light. Do not take away from his glory by living without joy, by reflecting the misery around you, by the ugly moods of the dark, by stealing from his glory to lift up the darkness of this world. If you are lacking joy this morning, fill your hearts with thanksgiving and worship our God. For sure your mood will change to reflect the glory of the Light in you.