The past few weeks have been challenging ones for me. As a Christian, I know that it is possible to become discouraged and feel hopeless even though one has a close relationship with the Lord. I know, because I’ve been there.
Are you discouraged? Do you feel like giving up? Are your burdens too heavy to carry one more day? Then this is for you. No matter what you are going through, I want to encourage you today. You are not alone.
What are we to do when we feel hopeless? Jesus tells us in Matthew 11: 28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
So, how to we enter in to this rest? If you are like me, you are probably already praying and asking Jesus to give you strength and to lead you down the right path. And if you are like me, you may be telling him exactly how to fix your problems. “Now Jesus, I know you have a lot to worry about, so just do exactly as I tell you and my problems will be fixed. I know I got myself into this mess, but surely, if you listen to me, I can tell you how to fix it and get me out of it. Besides, I know you have many more important things to worry about, so just do as I tell you and all will be good”. Well, I may not say those words, but that is more or less what I am saying when I pray for specific outcomes that I believe will solve all of my problems.
We believe that if God will just do “x, y and z” then everything will be great. But, God does not work like that. In fact, he tells us in James 1: 2-4 that we should “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.
I have yet to consider my trials “pure joy”. However, if trials are to be expected, we should not be surprised by them. Then how do we enter into this rest when we are in the midst of them?
I believe it begins with faith. One of my favorite prayers from the Apostle Paul is founds in Ephesians 3: 16-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.
When we begin to grasp how much God loves us, through faith, we begin to be filled with the fullness of God. What does the fullness of God mean? If we read a little further into Chapter 4, Paul uses this expression again in verse 13, “until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. I believe what he is saying is that when we begin to grasp God’s love for us, we become mature Christians and are more Christ-like.
And I believe that is the foundation on which our faith is strengthened and built. Because when we truly believe that God loves us and we begin to grasp the depths of his love, we are able to trust him. We are able to believe all of the promises in the Bible which tell us to rest, and not to worry, because “God’s got this”. There are many scriptures that comfort us when we trust him to do what he says such as Philippians 4:4-7 and 19; and another favorite, Romans 8:28.
Finally, in Romans 15:13, Paul prays this prayer: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
So, when we begin to grasp how much he loves us, through faith, we grow in maturity and become more Christ-like and we trust him. And when we trust him, he fills us with peace and joy and he gives us hope, and we are able to rest.
It all comes down to this…do you really understand how much God loves you? Think about it. If you answered yes, do you trust him? Do you really trust him? Enough to give him control and let go?
I believe that is the key to entering into his rest. And that is my prayer for you, and for me. May we all understand and grasp the depth of God’s love for us, through faith, so that we fully trust in him and are filled with joy and peace and an abundance of hope.
Written by: Connie Morgenroth
May 23, 2014