Every once in a while, things get really tough in life and I find myself struggling. Struggling to find joy, struggling to have hope, struggling to do the things that need to be done.
In a recent sermon, I called this going through a “season of discontent.” It happens. No one (not even Jesus) promised life would be easy. In fact, in the Gospel According to John, Jesus said to the disciples: “in this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33, in case you want to look it up!) He wasn’t despairing, he was being absolutely honest with the disciples about what they would face as they carried the good news to a broken world.
It has been a time of trouble recently. A season of discontent. For the world as we deal with ISIS, Syria, Ebola, and many other problems. For friends and people within my faith community as they deal with unexpected losses, health issues and uncertain futures. And for myself as I deal with the ongoing pressures and stresses of life in full time ministry.
If someone showed up at my office and talked about feeling this kind of a season of discontent, there are two things I would do. First, I would pray for them, right then and there – so they could hear me lifting them and all of their worries and concerns up before God. (I have friends who do this for me when I need it, and I can attest to how powerful it is to have someone else pray over you.)
The second thing I would do is that I would give them some scripture passages to read. I would make them promise to read the passages daily. The length and complexity of these passages would depend entirely on the individual and what I know of their comfort level with reading and interpreting scripture. But how ever long, short, simple or complex the passage, I can tell you the words would include some the promises God makes to us as His children.
I would give them words like this:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT
I would tell them that they are God’s masterpiece. That they are made new in Christ. That even in a dark and sucky season like this, God has made them to do good things that He planned long ago.
So tonite I am practicing what I preach. I am reading this passage for me. I am telling myself those things. And I am letting you
read listen in, in case you need to hear them, too.
(Read that passage again. And then again tomorrow morning, and every day that you need a little encouragement. That you need to know you are God’s masterpiece. I plan to.)
Oh, and if you want a few more passages like that, check this out: