Tough Love

heart-armor

Circumstances change so quickly. It’s easy to be afraid of ‘what’s next’?

You’d have to be superhuman to live indifferently. To be immune to external situations tugging at your emotions while shoving fear and apprehension to the foreground way too frequently.

Some people respond by trying to control everything and everyone around them as a means of realizing some form of peace and safety. But that’s an exhausting treadmill that never slows down and is heartless in its relentless pace.

Jesus is described as ‘the Rock’.

What does that mean, to make any difference at all?

When circumstances are overwhelming we can panic, lose our footing and wonder why, what, how? Life is often unfair and yet we tend to measure our worth by how well life is going for us at any given moment. Usually the yardstick is how we’re handling events around us; or when everything seems aligned and there’s money in the bank; or not.

You probably have examples, maybe yourself. I’ll illustrate with two that have come to my attention in the past few days. One is a middle-aged man struggling with serious alcoholism and desperately trying to turn his life around. The other is a young friend in his early thirties, discouraged, facing a long journey to put his life together. The first man chooses science over God but that’s not helping too much right now. The second man loves God and yet wonders why the journey is so tough and where’s God for him?

courage heart

It takes courage to stop and allow faith take hold of you, right where you are, by the scruff of the neck, and hear the words, “Trust me, stay close, believe when you don’t hear, see or feel.” At these times it’s literally, to hell with feelings, where’s the Rock? This isn’t a time for sentimental platitudes, we need reality that is tough, enduring, unchanging, and truthful – bigger than ourselves – one that overwhelms whatever overwhelms us.

Look back through history; notice the date on your computer screen and pay attention. It’s January 2019. Well around 2019 years ago Jesus, the Rock, hung on a Cross outside Jerusalem, in real time. His circumstances were overwhelming, His friends had abandoned Him, His body was beaten up and broken, His message and life appeared to be an utter failure, and His future was death among thieves and a borrowed grave. His life was unbelievably unfair in it’s ending on earth. Violence brutalized Him, prejudice nailed Him, religious fanatics taunted Him, and Roman authorities made Him their political scapegoat. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

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In the midst of tough circumstances look away from yourself – look at the Cross. Look long and hard. It’s not a myth or fantasy. It’s not a video game, or airbrushed graffiti… any historian or reputable scholar will tell you that. This was an event. But so unspectacular, and so anticlimactic, and so pathetically predictable. Jesus was dead and buried. The Rock was crushed – not extraordinary after all.

The story ended at a grave, like every other human narrative – death. Family tends to the body, friends trickle back feeling ashamed and reminiscing of what might have been, and the authorities of the day (political and religious) breathe a sigh of relief – trouble averted.

But this was an event unlike anything the world has ever seen before or since. It’s why the scientist has nowhere to go and no tools to test – it’s a once in humankind event. Scientists detest scratching their heads, “If we can’t prove it then it cannot be.” And they dislike even more being brushed aside by lawyers looking for evidence to prove a case that cannot be tested.

And it was these guys who gathered after the third day when Jesus’ grave was found open and He appeared to over 500 people within a few weeks. It was unbelievable. The Rock wasn’t crushed after all, and the Cross was empty and would eventually be transformed into a symbol of grace, power, hope and victory.

So when you’re struggling – as I sometimes do, with feelings and circumstances and questions about God…. Look at that bloody Cross and know these three truths.

Look at the Cross. God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for you and for me. Because our lives are so screwed up, our motives so questionable, and our best efforts to be acceptable and perfect before God are a joke. He loves you now…..any which way……

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Look at this Cross. Jesus took hold of you, wound Himself around you as tightly as the vine holding the wood and He broke through death with you. In other words every circumstance that causes us to fear He will transform into life and hope if we allow Him to take hold of us – and if we stay there for more than a quick prayer. Abide….. in the vine.

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Look at the Cross. What was designed by Romans to kill and torture was broken by the power of God in Jesus to become a symbol of heaven overcoming the broken despair of earth. So when your circumstances are overwhelming thank God that He is greater and will lead you through them. It may take three days or longer but allow His victory then to become your victory now. Not based on whistling and wishing, but rooted in the evidence of the Cross and the faithfulness of a God who holds you through the circumstance – fair or unfair.

Dance in the rain, sing in the drought, and believe. Let faith arise…… based on the Rock.

Declare with me, “To hell with my emotions right now, God is good, and I am safe, and He will lead me through……”

Then jump up and down, hug a friend, smile, and declare, “It’s not over yet, I’m so excited!”

ain't no grave

Ain’t No Grave

 

Need someone to talk to, listen, be encouraged to navigate your present and your future? Go to Little Mountain Counselling to find out more. Not a hopeless end, but endless hope.

 

 

 

 

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

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