These past few months I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned some things about myself through quarantine, recovery from COVID-19, and watching what little news I could tolerate about all societal chaos. I realized more and more that resting is necessary. Spiritually resting in the Lord’s power and Word, of course, mentally resting from the onslaught of opinions and “news”, emotionally resting from the concerns and burdens we just love to bear and physically resting before we sicken ourselves unnecessarily.
As much as I have learned about my own issues with resting, especially spiritually, there is something else I’ve learned, something alarming I’ve noticed. It’s the unrestrained, restless behavior of many of my professing sisters (brothers too). Triggered and tossed about publicly, professing sisters are showcasing one of the reasons why we need to listen to God on verses such as these:
“Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” Ecclesiastes 7:9-10
I get it, things are troubling. We long for former days. The stakes seem high now, the question marks are bigger and the lies are more abundant. Pandemics are scary. The world is increasingly hostile towards the ways of God and His people, more hostile towards any solid and wholesome way of life- more hostile towards anything decent. It can make us restless and distracted.
These days, as a Christian, I tend to look at my social media feed with one eye open. It’s tough to read. As I feel my blood boil or angst start to set in, I’m often reminded of this:
“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-7
I also think of these verses:
Philippians 2:14-16: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8.
Before having the “rona” I admit I felt the anxiety of a deadly virus and also the confusion and doubt about whether or not it’s really that deadly. As everyone knows, the news is more confusing than it is clarifying. Although unsure of what to think, we sanitized, wore masks, and prayed they worked. Being we live with my in-laws my teenage daughter took leave from her public job so that she wouldn’t get the virus and bring it home to them. My husband and I stayed home. Our church shut its doors and did sermons online. We were dedicated to trying to keep the virus out of our home.
Then we got it.
How? Who really knows for sure? The important thing is-God is in control, we are ok now, and we are grateful. We did what we could, sensibly, and trusted the Lord through it all. Trusting and resting in the Lord and His will is everything. It’s the calm in the middle of the storm and the sure footing on solid rock.
It’s easy to tell when one is fixated on the world and all that it broadcasts, when the world is influencing them to lose their peace. Emotional rants, desperate pleas, frantic responses, fear-filled warnings, angry emoji’s on repeat, bowing to the world, name-calling, expressing with cuss words, guilt-tripping, focusing on temporary freedoms and comforts, making non-Christian people be either your enemy or a savior depending on their political position or beliefs on wearing masks and isolating.. and then the frequent ALL CAPS.
There is a healthy amount of rest and ease we should seek. We need to chill without becoming complacent or unconcerned. We should call out sin and warn others of false teachings and dangerous movements but we can’t do any good being anxious or fearful, belligerent or insulting in the process. There is far too much emotional manipulation from the world, we don’t need to join that party.
I understand the temptation. For us Christians, there may be times ….
When our comforts are yanked from us or threatened, we cry for their return and preservation.
When the rebellious hearts of this world mock blessings, we get angry.
When the lost of this world step on our flowers, we grumble and point.
When the foolish spew unrelenting mendacities around us, we drown them in truth until they plead for mercy.
When the haters of this world want to revile and slander us, we are offended and we return the favor fiercely.
We may ask, “Why is this happening? Where’s justice? What about our rights? How can we continue on?”
What we should be asking is…what rights or comforts do we need now in order to live for eternity? Is my main focus supposed to be on health and national/personal freedom? Praying for those things is good and acceptable, focusing onand getting our hope from them – that’s a major problem.
My late grandfather used to say, “I only have the right to be thankful.” I’m not sure he was even a believer but I do know his little phrase packs a biblical punch. Do we really have the right to anything else? Think about it. Do we understand who we actually are and what we really deserve? Have you taken a close look at your own sinfulness?
Paul got it. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
Jesus instructed the disciples, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17:10)
Who has convinced you of anything otherwise?
Remember what the Lord said in Matthew 5:38-44? ““You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
Is that only after you ridicule and slander them first? NO
I’m seeing Christian leaders stoke the fire of emotion, slowly turning the focus away from the Gospel and putting it on political wars, societal and cultural restructuring, making the church more sensitive to the world’s cries, or the rights we “just can’t afford to lose”.
The disciples of Jesus yearned for Him to put an end to the corruption and persecution in their society. They believed He would set things right at that time, politically. Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He didn’t overturn the governments. He focused rather on saving and bringing souls home to His heavenly kingdom. That’s what He came for.
People surrounded Him constantly to be healed. He in His grace healed several. Yet He didn’t take away all sicknesses or even most of them. It was never really about those things. He kept the focus where the focus must be.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:36-37.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” Matthew 28: 19-20.
The more people hear the Gospel, the more people will be saved. When people are saved their hearts are changed and they proclaim the Gospel to others. Hope and joy are found. Peace with God is given. Lifestyles and families are impacted. Love and respect is practiced and seen. Most importantly, the Lord is glorified.
We read the Word and we are reminded we are to be unlike the world, to show the love of Christ, to die to self, to focus on Him and His promises and commands and that we are owed nothing from the Lord. We have been given such blessing beyond measure, all undeserved.
So why are many of my professing sisters having toddler fits all over social media as if they deserve blessing; as if they have rights to have what they want? Why are they making many lost people look more held-together then they are? Is it because, maybe, this world is where their hope really lies? Is it because church leaders are leading them on to think such nonsense is the work of the Lord? Do they understand what the Lord really wants?
If the Lord chooses not to answer our prayers or give us worldly comforts and freedoms, are we good with that? Can you rest in His wisdom? Can you look at the bigger eternal picture?
Sisters, let’s move on with the Gospel. This world has no hope without the Gospel. The work and the Word of the Lord change the hearts of people, not us, and definitely not our fits or anxiety.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? Romans 8:31b-33a
No one wants or should desire persecution or for freedom to end, yet to focus on those things as if Christ can’t be glorified or served in persecuted and oppressive situations is foolishness. Look at the world in Biblical times, when persecution, disease and death were daily sorrows. The Church still grew. God was glorified more and the people still found something to rejoice about. Can we still have joy in serving the Lord today?
And what do we do differently if every comfort in this world goes away? Nothing.
Love God. Share the Word. Pray. Love others more than yourself, even your enemies.
As a mother of five, when my little children threw fits, became hysterical, refused to listen, screamed to have something, or became grumpy and snarky….discipline or a nap were in order. They needed to think about what they were actually doing. They needed to rest and collect themselves before they found themselves in more trouble.
My Christian sisters, be an adult, a mature adult. Grow in Christ and realize when you need to rest in His ways more and concern yourself with what concerns Him, not what you think concerns Him. Study the Word to know. Be thankful and have joy in your salvation. Don’t grumble over the sins of others, share the Gospel instead. Remember, the lost can’t have rest as we can. They need salvation. That should be more than enough to motivate us with the Gospel.
““THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’” (Hebrews 3:10-11)
If you can’t rest in the sovereignty of God, get a grip, be salt and light in a dark world and pick your battles wisely, then get off of social media, stop watching the world, surround yourself with more sound fellowship and teaching, and please get on your knees and in the Word.
And maybe take a nap? Just not too long. There is much work to be done for the Lord.
Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford