Updated: Mar 22, 2021
I have delayed the two blogs on Understanding Satan until November 17th and 24th because of important events in our country.
So many messages I hear today speak about putting off fear, doubt, insecurity, and grief and putting on trust, joy, peace, faith and contentment. Most Christians are disappointed, and some surprised with the outcome of the presidential election. In the face of these and other troubling thoughts and emotions, we are repeatedly reminded, “God is in control”, and if we really believe it, we should feel just fine. And the implication is, If we don’t feel at peace, then we must be doing something wrong.
This is where a good number of Christians struggle — feeling guilty over the lack of alignment between head and heart and belief and experience. It is gravely unfortunate that far too many Christians fail to persevere with and support those of us who are in a season of troubled emotions. Instead of others joining with us in our world they desperately try to use logic to pull us into their world, while we avoid our unsettling emotions. The often anxious, impulsive, Christian remedy is get out of the unproductive, almost sinful feelings and into the faith that dwells only on the power and control of God over all troubles. As if anything short of that is foolish and a denial of God’s sovereignty. We are being led to deny our emotions, a clear recipe for trouble. Instead we all need to work through them and that by taking whatever time is needed to do so, as determined by the individual and not group think (conformity at all costs).
Do we Christians have the legitimate need to lament over recent political events and wrestle with God over why because we see a very disturbing future? Are we unfaithful if we cannot immediately shake off our doubts, questions, disappointments, and other troubled emotions? Logic-based Christians expect us to control and quickly let go of our troubles, but does God?
So many of the Psalms are about lamenting, about encouraging our natural weeping, wailing, and complaining to God:
Psalm 31:9-10. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. (It speaks about “years” of groaning, not hours.)
Psalm 25:16-18. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress…. (These emotions are present and not blindly dismissed.)
Psalm 86: 3-4, 16. [H]ave mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you…Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you…. (It is God’s compassionate work in our lives that restores us through His giving us mercy, joy, and strength to get through tough circumstances.)
Of course, in the midst of those extreme troubles the psalmists also give expression to their faith and trust in God’s future provisions. But those provisions are often not immediate and not intended to be such. For example, I believe our country’s devastating, shifting values toward embracing socialism and a Leftist agenda by electing a Democrat President is a Roman’s chapter one event (God giving people over to their own ways). It is also a judgment against Christians for our spiritually lukewarm hearts, diminishing theological understanding and interest, high rate of divorce (same rate as non-Christians), churches who have lost His gift of significant power, succumbing to pornography (including many pastors, leaders), a lack of agape love and unity for which Christ prayed (Jn 17:23), and other things, such as placing our greater affections on America and its politics and not first the kingdom of God.
If you do not view today’s troubling events as a judgment of God, events such as our coming new government and anti-Constitutional laws, Covid-19, and serious financial woes (including unsustainable personal, corporate, and government debt), perhaps you might consider them to be a testing of our faith. Either way, God does not want us to deny or dismiss our suffering without first learning why the troubles exist and why He has brought them to our doorstep or allowed Satan to infect us. As with Job’s many testings, in the end, they were for his correction about his faulty image of God and himself. Those testings culminated in his repentance and needed restoration with God. Had Job not repented, his trials would have continued. Our trials will continue if we do not see and respond to God’s messages in these precarious times and events.
Even if we do repent, all that is happening and events that will continue to happen, may also be about ending the greatness and influence of America, as is indirectly predicted in the end times. That is, by absence of comment, which is considered by many theologians to be worthy of recognition. The change in or demise of America will happen in order for there to be a unified, new world order of government, economy, power, and religion that sets up the battle of armageddon in Revelation.
The point of this writing is to encourage you to work out your own troubled thoughts and feelings. Do not allow others to minimize the truth of your own inner world and attempt to guilt-trip you into thinking it would be righteous to deny or suppress part of your inner reality in order to keep up the appearance of an other-approved faith (Rom 14).
Grow your own faith. And permit the time necessary for a non-forced, truthful, and God-driven resolution of your troubles. It is the only path to personal healing. Healing always begins with the recognition of and willingness to live out one's own truth. After all, truth is the only place where God lives, the Spirit breathes, and His work in us begins.
Lastly, lamenting does not mean one has a lack of faith. It means you are human. It means you are attending to your God-given emotions and your own world of understanding and knowledge. It means you are like Jesus in the Garden, who was anxious and lamented to the point of sweating blood. It means you are like many of the prophets who emotionally and spiritually struggled, even to thoughts about death, i.e., Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Paul. Having strong faith does not mean being free from troubling thoughts and emotions. Having weak or strong faith goes along with struggling and wrestling with God and with powerful, troubling thoughts and feelings.
As His people, we are all encouraged to pour out, in truth, our troubles. And we are to continue to do so until we can cope with what we must cope and recover from what we can recover. For some, they will be able to keep contentment and peace alongside troubling emotions. This is possible. This is achievable, over time and maturity. But it is not intended as a permanent avoidance or escape from the needed emotional recovery from troubles. It is a position of grace, while we discover the pathways of living congruently within ourselves.