If we long for a better season in our earthly life, we do well to give that longing to God and wait for His timing, method, and purpose to bring such a season about. The temptation is to forever attempt to make a better life for ourselves by ourselves, often while trying to believe it is the Spirit making things happen and not our flesh. We need to long for, and trust in, our Lord's direction for our lives. If we need peace, rest or comfort, we must expect it to come on God's terms, never our own.
This may be one of the most difficult lessons that confront us on the pilgrim pathway through this life. We are creatures who, not surprisingly, get tired of pain, even pain we trust to be redemptive. We are also believers living in the age of "self-help", a time in human history when we are constantly being bombarded with the idea that we can re-make our lives by lifting ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
If this sounds like an absurdity, that is because it is; we can no more lift ourselves into a better state of being spiritually through our own ego-strength than we can grab the straps of our boots and lift ourselves up off the ground physically. Spiritual self-help, at least spiritual self-help that is not grounded in the power and purpose of Christ, is simply an impossibility for the child of God. In fact it is a turn away from Him and towards the modern West's all-pervasive idolatry of the self.
We can, of course, fool ourselves into thinking we have come into a truly sunnier season in our lives without the primary power of our Lord. Our circumstances may improve, at least in our own eyes, through some resolution to change. We may find chemical release from some of the pain of life in the form of medication or some other controlled substance. We may even find ourselves expecting to live happily ever after when we enter into the powerful, but temporary, throes of the romantic mania our culture passes off for permanent transcendence.
All these things are not lasting because, in the final analysis, there are no stand-alone solutions for what ails us. All, or at least some of them, may be used by God in a limited way to bring us into a place and time of blessing, but as tools in our hands alone, they bring nothing of eternal value.
What remains for us is to pray, and pray without ceasing, for relief from the dark and even not so dark nights of the soul that we inevitably must pass through in this aptly named "veil of tears" that we call our earthly existence. God can and does provide seasons of blessing and lightness of being for even His hardest pressed children. We may not have those times come to us when we are convinced we must have them come to save our sanity. We also may not enjoy them, when they do come, for as long as we would like. God is not in the business of making us feel "at ease in Zion" for extended periods, because He knows our tendency to try to find a heaven on earth now rather than the true Heaven that awaits us at the end of our days.
The answer to our need for respite along the hard road of Christian discipleship is to look to the One who ordained that road of redemption and sanctification for His rescued sinners. We dare not allow ourselves to consciously, or even unconsciously, attempt to take a vacation from the rigors of the faith by our own lights. It is infinitely better to instead let God's perfect light lead us to the green pastures and quiet waters of blessing that He knows we need even more than we do.
© Shea Oakley. All Rights Reserved.
Converted from atheism in 1990, Shea Oakley has written over 350 articles for electronic and print publications since 2002, including Disciple Magazine (and Pulpit Helps Magazine), The Christian Herald, The Christian Post, Christian Network and Crosshome.com. In 2003 he graduated from Alliance Theological Seminary with a Certificate of Theological Studies. Shea and his wife Kathleen make their home in West Milford, New Jersey.
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