“So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer” (Luke 23:9).
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is time to speak and a time to keep silent. And this makes sense enough, but the issue is, when is the fitting time? When is it better to speak? And when is it necessary to stay quiet? This is the art of wisdom.
Yet, as a society, we have pretty unanimously voted in favor of speaking. Our world, filled with technology and social media, never stops speaking, be it with words, pictures, or videos. Background music follows us everywhere.
Today we see so much conflict and confrontation over differing viewpoints and opinions in every level of society. It seems as though people think that if they just shout their opinions louder at those who disagree with them, they will win. And there’s so much to disagree about, and so many ways to voice those opinions. Even among believers, so many seem bent on criticizing other believers’ beliefs or lives. Have we forgotten how much people mean to God, and that He’s called us to always show respect to others, whether we agree with them or not?
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” (C.S. Lewis)
Most people come to a point in their lives when they are suddenly struck with the reality of the day-in and day-out of living life, and they begin to question what it’s all about. A friend shared with me recently that he came to a crisis point when he turned 30. He’d been busy living the daily mundane and hadn’t taken time to assess where he was in life. As he looked around, he saw all he’d been doing, what he had accomplished, and began to panic, wondering if he had been wasting time.
Is there a dream you’ve been holding onto for a long time and it hasn’t come true yet? Maybe you’re worried and anxious that it isn’t ever going to happen. Maybe you’re wondering if God really loves you after all. Here are five good things to remember in such times:
1. God still loves you.
We know from reading the Bible that God allowed his dear saints to go through various grievous trials. Because you are suffering right now in some way does not mean that God has forsaken you. He still loves you. Below are some of many examples from Scripture of this great truth:
We all have people who are influencing us, people who are in our ear. We’re listening to their counsel, following their suggestions, trusting what they say. The question is: Are they the right people? You shouldn’t take advice from everyone. You shouldn’t be swayed by every opinion. You need to look at their track record. Where are they in life? Have they made good decisions? Do they honor God? Do they have your best interests at heart? You have to be careful who’s in your ear. If you have wrong voices, you’re going to make wrong choices. If you hang around friends who compromise, coworkers who gossip, and relatives who get you all stirred up, they’re not moving you toward your destiny. Their example, their advice, and how they’re influencing you will keep you from your potential.
We all have those days when we want to pull the covers back up over our heads and hit the snooze button one more time. There is the occasional day that we wake up motivated and ready to conquer the day, but it’s easier said than done. We know God’s Word gives us everything we need, but sometimes we forget.
Life can be difficult and sometimes all it takes is one little bump in the road to knock us off our feet and make us feel less than motivated. Don’t stay stuck, but rather cling to God’s Word and let it help you shift your thinking.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
The above is one of my all-time favorite passages in Scripture. Indeed, in numerous places in Scripture the Christian life is compared to the effort and exertion of a race (1 Cor. 9:24; 2 Tim. 4:7). These few words from Hebrews teach us four things about what it means to run the Christian’s race well.
One Sunday during a church service a young woman asked me to pray for her, then she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I feel so unnoticed by God, as though He doesn’t even care about what’s going on in my life.” Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you’re going through a difficult season right now and wonder, “God, where are You? Do You see what I’m going through? Do You care?”
I’m sure that the crippled woman in Luke 13, who came into the crowded synagogue where Jesus was teaching, had wondered the same thing thousands of times. She “had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years,” was bent completely forward, and could not straighten up.
He sat in the ashes, scraping oozing sores with a pottery shard. Once a wealthy man, Job mourned alone in the city’s trash heap.
Following an encounter between God and Satan in the heavenly courts, the enemy set his sights on Job. Determined to prove that the man would only remain faithful to the Lord while under cover of blessing, Satan killed Job’s 10 adult children, enlisted men to destroy Job’s property and source of wealth, and attacked Job with festering boils from head to heel. Grief consumed Job.
Perhaps one of the most common Bible verses found on bookmarks, in memory lists, and on social media posts is Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”
This verse brings a message we cling to—a message of comfort and future hope while living in places and times full of stress, suffering, sadness, confusion, and anger. We read and recite this verse to direct our hearts and minds forward to a better time in a better place—the pleasant future God has planned for us.