So, today is beautiful. It’s warm, sunny, not oppressively hot… and perhaps best of all, it’s Friday. How awesome is that? I should be happy, right?
That’s what struck me today around lunch time as I was walking to the school to pick up one of my daughters: I should be very happy. But as I thought about the disposition of my heart I found something quite different: I was sad. I wasn’t depressed or angry, and I wasn’t ready to weep or break down. There was just a kind of low-grade sad, disappointed mindset that was colouring all my thoughts and interactions.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I began to question myself in the fashion of Psalm 42-43:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 43.5)
What’s cool about this question is that it is actually drawing out the reasons for sadness, while at the same time challenging those reasons for sadness with timeless truth: God reigns, he saves, and I will praise him into the future. So in light of the truth that was (I’ve praised him before), the truth that is (he is still my salvation and my God), and the truth that will be (I will praise him again), are my reasons for sadness still justified?
My sadness today, I think, was grounded simply in the ‘stuff’ of life. I’m frustrated that I’m not getting enough done, I feel kind of sick, kind of tired, kind of grieved by some relationships, and overall just on the verge of feeling overwhelmed with life. It’s the same ‘stuff’ most people feel, I think, on a pretty regular basis.
Contemplating truth (like the truth about God from Psalm 43) in the midst of our sadness brings us to the battle for faith. Christians are not hearing those concepts of salvation and hope in God for the first time. It is simple truth that they already know — simple truth that I already know. But knowing and believing are two different things. So when I’m confronted with what I know, the question is simple: Will I believe it? Will I place my faith in this?
This is illustrated any number of times in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. While many in the crowds knew that Jesus was capable of performing miracles, only some actually acted on that knowledge. They are the ones who lived a ‘get up and go to Jesus!’ kind of faith. Like the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5.25-34): she knew that Jesus had the power to heal, so she ‘got up and went’. She acted on what she knew, by going to Jesus and venturing everything on a mere touch.
While Jesus rebukes the crowds for their lack of faith (Mark 9.19), those who get up and go to him hear words like this: ‘Your faith has made you well; go in peace’ (Mark 5.25).
So the question for me in common, everyday issues like feeling sad, is not, ‘What do I know?” but ‘What will I do with what I know?’ And ‘Will I sit back in the crowd and watch from a distance as others are blessed, or will I actually get up and go to him?’
This afternoon, by God’s grace, I’m able to say that whenever I’ve gone to him — even this morning — he has always been willing and able to help. Going to him, confessing my weak faith, pleading for mercy, and asking for the Applier of Truth to come work in my heart has made all the difference. May God give me — and you — grace to get up and go to him tomorrow again. And the next day. And every day after that.
He is the only one worth going to and the only one we will go to in our moments of need, if we are acting by faith.