It’s another year. Not even a month has passed, yet I’m already quaking under the weight of the responsibility of what lies ahead. The forecast is looking bleak again. I read my Bible on New Year’s Day, and promised to begin a reading plan. This will be the year when I finally read through the entire Bible for the first time! But alas, I didn’t read it yesterday, nor the day before that. In fact, I haven’t even begun a Bible plan yet. I really want to but I’ve missed quite a few days already and my enthusiasm is dying down. I fear this year might just be like the last and I’m feeling the depression coming on. Maybe I’ll join in my Church’s 21 days fast which was announced last week. I am not very good at fasting, but my Pastor said I have to fast and pray if I want God to bless me. So, help me God, that’s what I’ll do.
(The musings of Christian A are ended).
I promised myself I wasn’t going back, yet here am I; I’ve done it again! I really thought I was strong enough to do it on my own. After all the prophecies I received at the start of the New Year, nothing seems to have changed. My addictions are stronger now than ever before. I really thought I had broken free of my lust, I really thought I was free. Just the other Lord’s day I responded when the man of God made an altar call to sow a seed into our righteousness this year. I am really discouraged right now I feel like giving up. What’s the point of trying when I always come back to square one? It’s not even past the first quarter of the year, and already I feel defeated. Will I ever be able to live a life that pleases God?
(The musings of Christian B are ended).
Christian A and B are feeling frustrated and at their wits end. Their efforts at making good their resolve to live for God in the New Year have failed them and left them discouraged and dejected. Thus, failing in their resolve, they have lost all will and desire to persevere any longer.
Do their stories sound familiar? Is January quite not what you had hoped it would be? The writer of the 43rd Psalm has some practical help for you.
This is what we read in the last verse of that Psalm:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalm 43:5, 42:5, 11).
Most commentators think that David wrote this Psalm and the one that precedes it when he was betrayed by his son Absalom and he fled into the parts beyond the Jordan, or when Saul pursued him and he sought refuge in a strange land, among the heathen. In the verse above, he finds himself awfully distressed by his present circumstances. He feels downhearted and dejected. His soul is in turmoil; it feels like he has reached a cul-de-sac and his frustration is evident. Yet the Psalmist does something that holds a great lesson for every child of God who feels like giving up.
Preach to Yourself
Instead of allowing his disquieted soul to talk to him, David rather talks to his soul, and realigns his perspective of things. Instead of focusing on his emotions and present circumstances, he redirects his focus on God. The word of God should take pre-eminence over all other voices that compete for our attention if we are to live victorious lives as Christians. When David realigned his perspective, he realised that his dejection and state of misery was unwarranted, as he preaches to his soul to hope in God.
Hope in God
Christian A and B are downcast because they feel they have failed themselves and God. They had goals for the New Year that they have not met, habits that they told themselves they can deal with, yet have failed to master, and therefore they feel like giving up. Like David, Christian A and B need to focus on God and not on their own efforts.
Your Worth is Not Based on Your Own Works
Our worth as Christians is not in our works, it is in the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
Jesus paid it all on the cross, and purchased our freedom from sin and the wrath of God against our sins. Each time God looks at us, He sees the finished work of Christ based on which we are declared righteous. Our righteousness is not the product of our works—not before we got saved, and not once after we are saved. Christ is our righteousness (1Cor. 1:30).
Fasting and praying are great spiritual disciplines; yet in and of themselves they are not what guarantees our victory over sin. Christ’s finished work is what does. Fasting does not commend us to God; it simply puts us in a place where God can work on us as we humble our hearts and open up to the means of His grace in our lives.
Giving is a great act of worship; however, we can never purchase God’s grace with money, nor His gifts and favour with any seed of offering we can ever give.
Instead of focusing on your own human efforts, take strength in God’s grace. As Paul admonishes, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (not yours)” (Eph. 6:10, emphasis added).
Your Sins Do Not Make God Love You Any Less
Christian, your sins are not good enough reason for dejection and misery—Christ has borne them on the cross of Calvary, and His blood continuously cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:7b). Confess your sins to God and move forward in the assurance of His forgiveness (1John 1:9, 2:1).
There is therefore now no condemnation for all those who are in Christ Jesus. Nothing can separate us from His love; neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation—including ourselves, our sins and failings—will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:1, 35-39).
You Shall Yet Praise Him, Your Salvation
Here is the crust of the whole matter: God is your salvation! Christian, do you really trust in God as your soul’s salvation? Then trust Him completely for the working out of every detail of your walk with Him. Trust Him each moment of the day; cast your cares upon Him and you will find that you have nothing to fear.
David said, “for I shall again praise him”. This is a statement of faith and hope in the salvation of God from every enemy that threatens our joy in Him. Though in this life we are fraught with temptation and trials and Satan threatens to undo us, yet God will grant us the grace to persevere and overcome. And soon, when he returns or calls us home, we shall see His face forever and praise for all of eternity He who is our salvation and our God!