“The everlasting God…neither faints nor is weary” -Isa. 40:28
What a challenging year of ups and downs, like many of us haven’t seen in years (or a lifetime). The Coronavirus, record setting winter weather, upheaval in Washington- the list goes on and on. Someone once said, “The greatest evidence of the good ole days is a bad memory”. Times have always been hard (and in a way, always easy). Regardless, many of us are just plain “pooped” from the load of this past year. But there are healthy directions for us to go and there are words of hope!
Like I do occasionally, I’m going to let one of my heroes, Oswald Chambers, say it much better than I ever could. May the Lord bless his words to you.
From “My Utmost for His Highest,” Feb. 9th:
“Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing with which to feed them (John 21:17). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely- to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.
Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, “O Lord, I am so exhausted.” He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. “All my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7)
Jesus Christ reveals, not an embarrassed God, not a confused God, not a God who stands apart from the problems, but One who stands in the thick of this whole thing with man.”
Wow. Great words from Oswald. The better focus from us all is purifying our “source of supply”. The options are to depend on me and my own “devices” or to stay linked and dependent on my Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s amazing the “devices” that we have come up with to cope and numb the difficulty around us. There four versions of devices are most paramount: protection, dissociation, self-medication, and denial.
1. Projection. Projection is a defensive behavior that protects us by attaching unacceptable feelings, or motives, to someone else (e.g., “You are the selfish one, not me.”)
2. Dissociation. Dissociation is the inability to articulate certain aspects of one’s own experience in verbal language. We keep unacceptable feelings out of awareness. One might say, “this is not happening to me.” The unconscious motive for dissociation is to escape from the overwhelming emotions associated with the traumatic memory. Healing requires one to come into contact with the previously inaccessible aspects of these inner feelings. The way out of trauma is by going through it (Epstein, 1994).
3. Self-medication. Addiction may be described as a defensive strategy to avoid feelings of helplessness to powerlessness (Ulman and Paul, 2006). The person tries to compensate with addictive behavior for painful subjective states of low self-esteem, doubts, and anxiety. The use of drugs provides a feeling of acceptance and a feeling of temporary self-confidence. However, addiction also prevents the user from understanding his distress and developing the emotional capacity to self-care.
4. Denial. The term denial (or repression) can be defined as the selective ignoring of information. Denial can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news, such as a cancer diagnosis, to create a false sense of security. Denial is a form of self-deception that detaches an individual from reality. To maintain a positive view of themselves, people revise their beliefs in the face of new evidence of good news but ignore bad news. For instance, alcoholics insist they have no drinking problem. Addiction can be a source of terrible shame, self-hatred, and low self-worth. Indeed, the first step of A.A. is to admit that you have a problem and begin to seek help.
Staying linked and dependent on our Lord Jesus Christ means we are guarding and cultivating our relationship with Him. It means we are keeping Jesus “literally our source of supply, taking our nourishment from God.”
When the snow was blowing and the temperature plummeted, as the Virus was spreading and Washington reeled in disharmony, we were weary (no denial here!). But our source remained the same- our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus was “distressed to the point of death” in the garden (Mark 14:34) but He never lost His focus on the Father. He understands where we are.
NOW, as the snow is changing to Spring showers, temperatures are warming up, virus cases are dropping and Washington is settling down, we actually face our biggest challenge! Sometimes better circumstances can disconnect us from our Godly “source of supply” even more. It’s subtle but can be equally as damaging to our soul.
Paul challenged us in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak from want, for I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, but I also know how to live in prosperity. I’ve learned the secret of being filled and going hungry- both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
May we be content and at peace in Him no matter the circumstances- up or down. May we stay tapped into our Lord Jesus Christ as our Source always.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©