Have you watched the news lately? How do you feel afterwards? It is true that bad news cannot be avoided, but at the same time feelings of depression should be resisted. Depression can be paralyzing. Discouragement can hinder creativity and progress in many ways. In the Bible, God does not promise us a trouble-free life, but he does give us the means to live in victory over discouragement.
A perfect example is found in the book of Acts, chapter 16. Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned for helping a slave girl. She was being exploited by her masters while being possessed by evil spirits. When the Lord delivered her from the power of witchcraft her owners were angry at Paul and Silas because they were losing the money they made from using her.
Then a strange thing happened. At midnight Paul and Silas began singing praises to God! Afterwards there was a great earthquake, the prison doors were opened and their chains came loose. Before the night was over, the Jailor and his entire family were baptized and became followers of Jesus!
History is full of stories like this one. God can give His people supernatural joy which is absolutely greater than their circumstances! This is a result of their living in a different realm of life. There is both the fact of the peace and joy they have from the presence of the Lord and also the hope they have of that better realm of existence coming to change the world around them.
In my experience there have been times when my troubles were eclipsed by a sense of euphoria that lifted me above them. I have seen times when I was overcome by unexplainable, inexpressible joy. Other times were not so wonderful, but I was sustained by the tremendous hope I have in Christ. As I read the stories in the New Testament and the writings of the apostles it becomes evident to me that these believers possessed a tangible and solid sense of the presence of God which kept them, and a powerful, hope-filled vision of the future that drove them forward in their mission.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is that powerful. When we hear it proclaimed with conviction it actually raises our consciousness and enables us to see the reign of Christ in the earth today! While our minds and emotions might tell us that evil is winning, we can have a deeper conviction that defies explanation. This conviction is more than the ability to bear up and endure the dominance of evil. This is a knowing that our great God is even now at work in us and that we are moving with Him into a glorious day!
None of this hope is derived from my abilities or your abilities. While I believe God has created human beings with great potential for good, we are also created for dependence upon Him. He is our only source of hope. It should be obvious by now that we cannot make it without His help, but the good news is that His help is here to anyone who seeks for Him!
How easy it is for us to forget that He is our true source for all things. We trust in ourselves. We trust in our government. We trust in science to help us. And then when things get worse we join the doomsayers who abandon every good cause in the name of submission to the will of God and His judgment on the world. How pious it might sound when they move out of the way to watch others pay for their offenses, but is it really?
God is looking for intercessors.
“The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery; yea, they have vexed the poor and needy, and have oppressed the sojourner wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.”
As Moses stood in the gap for Israel, and pleaded to God for mercy, as Abraham even plead for Sodom and Gomorrah, Christ stood in the gap for all of humanity, He took our sins upon His pure, sinless self, crying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Is your hope for you, your friends and loved ones alone? Or do you feel the love of God for all in your heart? There are those who would accuse me of pleading for a lost cause. The early believers did not see a lost cause, but a mission to spread good news and hope for the world because of Jesus. They believed Jesus when He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, the Body of Christ. They too stood in the gap for others and many were persecuted for it. Many were tortured and killed, and yet their witness lives on.
We are talking about claiming the promises of God, not for personal wealth and prosperity. That is of the Counterfeit Kingdom Message. We are claiming His promise to fill the earth with His righteousness, peace and joy. We stand on the Good News of Jesus Christ, His message that the Kingdom of God is here, which is the power of God unto salvation! Do you believe that Jesus has saved you? Why not believe the rest of His Gospel, that He has come to share His righteousness, peace and joy to everyone. With that faith in His Word, with that kind of conviction, you might possibly persuade others to also believe and be saved!
The more we bear witness to His Good News by our lives, our service to our communities, by our compassion, and our love, the more we will demonstrate the hope that He has given us. There is truly hope for living with Christ in eternity when we pass on, but there is also a gritty, courageous hope that even in this material world our prayers are being answered for our Father’s name to be hallowed, for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as in heaven! Following the examples of earlier Christians, we too will live out our hope in constructive ways.
We are NOT “polishing the brass on a sinking ship” as our critics suggest. No, we are preparing the way of the Lord, looking and hastening his appearing, occupying until He comes to prove His Lordship without doubt to every living being! We are not working to earn God’s approval, or to show our own righteousness, we are simply responding to a Mighty, Loving God Who loves His creation. Our love, peace and joy are really His, which He has freely shared with us!