In all our lives we will go through darkness…not the kind caused by sin or disobedience…but darkness that comes out of fear and confusion in this broken world. But while we are crouched down in the Valley of Despair, we need to listen…for the Lord will be speaking life-bringing truths into our soul. Precious truths of encouragement, and exhortation that will sustain us during illness, pain, and loss. Isaiah 50:10 tells us, ” Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”
Deuteronomy 33:27 goes on to assure us that, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The Lord should be the very first one to turn to in times of pain and suffering, and prayer should be our first action, not an afterthought. For there is a place of security and a sense of peace amid any turmoil…it’s found only beneath the loving and everlasting arms of Jesus.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
With each temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut…a way to compromise and thus circumvent God’s plan. So anytime our own impatience tempts us to not wait but instead run ahead of God…we’re playing right into the same scheme. Now none of us like to wait…we all want immediate gratification, so when offered a shortcut, we usually take it. But within that shortcut can hide compromise, risk, and loss. I Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In God’s perfect plan there are no shortcuts, and even though we may feel impatient when waiting on the Lord…we are to stand firm, fully committed and trusting in Him.
What does being a “good person” mean to you? Maybe your list contains all the things you do. You donate, you volunteer, you help your neighbor. Or maybe your “good person” list contains all the things you don’t do. You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. You don’t swear, or watch X rated movies. All of us have mental lists that make up what being a “good person” constitutes. But just being a “good person” will not get us to heaven…for our eternal life is not hinged on anything we will ever do or not do. That’s because it’s only by the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice for us that we can have the hope of eternity with Him. The very foundation of Christian faith is based on this one truth…Jesus Christ came to save the world from sin and He is the only way to God…for just being a “good person” will never rescue you from going to Hell.
It’s almost like the Writer of Hebrews is looking around at the wickedness in the world at that time and lamenting…”Yet at present we do not see everything subject to Him.” And sadly, we could say the same thing today as we survey the evilness and rebellion in our world. Jesus Christ has supreme power and rule and there will come a day when He takes His rightful seat of authority over this broken world. For submission to authority is either compulsory or voluntary…demanded or deliberate. And on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There will be no insubordination or willfulness…no pride or arrogance…for the world will see Jesus in all His glory, and there will be silence.
These verses remind me of the old Hymn, “What a Friend I have in Jesus.” When our burdens are too heavy to bear…our friend Jesus is there, ready to take those burdens and offer support and comfort. When pain and sorrow fills our body…our friend Jesus is there at the right hand of God interceding, and pleading on our behalf. Yes, if we think about it, there really is no better friend than Jesus.