Week 5 Trust and Know
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement.[i]
Matthew Henry on Hebrews 12:1
f we are to be God’s heart and hands in this world, the extra baggage we carry needs to be that of other hurting souls, and not our own.
Sin creates a heavy burden and it is repulsive. Thus when other people observe our transgressions we become vulnerable to their heartbreaking responses of disgust, and even if visible sins are overlooked, just the fear of eliciting the judgment of others is devastating. Overweight is a visible outcome of a private sin, and so its excess baggage may include, depending on one’s personality, self-imposed seclusion or jaw-jutting belligerence, reclusive silence or loud self-defense. Sin begets sin.
Much of the time, sins of other people plant the seeds that the enemy fans to flame of self-owned wrongdoing. A father shocks his seven-year-old daughter’s heart by telling her she is chubby. She hadn’t until that time known there was anything she might do that could cause her daddy to reject her, but now a dark specter of fear enters her heart. If she becomes fat, he will not love her. And so she tests his love and eats and eats and eats some more, because she wants desperately to know that his love for her is unconditional after all. Resentment spices the fear so that she is bound to a course she did not choose; food becomes her chosen rebellion either through eating disorders or overweight.
Perhaps a coach, teacher, peer, or some other human being planted the seeds that have blossomed into the sin of gluttony; perhaps health crises, physical or emotional abuse, or a sense of being entrapped in a life we did not choose fueled the fire of sin in our lives. Most puzzling of all, God Himself may seem to block our way when we attempt to break free of sin’s ill effects; we have learned that when He blocks us that it is because He will not allow us to put on a veneer of righteousness over the sin we hide in our hearts. Bitterness, resentment, anger, and rebellion may hide beneath the façade of toned bodies and noncommittal smiles, and God does not allow His children this sort of deceit. What you’re after is truth from the inside out…(Psalm 51:MSG).
How do we escape? What is stronger than sin, more potent than the need for self-comfort, and more real than the temptation to bypass short-term pain relief in favor of future fulfillment? How may we hold to Holy promises when we can scarcely remember our former, anticipatory joy? Railing out at God is never a good idea, because once we shout accusations at the Creator of the Universe, sick fear besets; have we trampled our own hope beneath our sin sickened feet?
The answer is very simple, so straightforward that it is easy to miss the life-changing power behind it: Jesus loves us just as we are. He doesn’t have a list of things we must do before we can be acceptable to Him. He loves us and invites us to love Him in return. It is in loving our Lord and being loved by Him that we find hope of healing from the despair of sin.
When depression and grief overwhelm, think about His love. Trust in His transforming power. Know that He is God, and find comfort in Him. He says: Rest, Child, rest in Me. You’ve done nothing that can adulterate the promises I have given. You have not lost your salvation or failed in any way I cannot repair. Look to My love and take heart! You are beloved of the Lord. Find your healing in My arms.
Pray: Lord forgive me for giving way to despair when You are my hope. Forgive me for crying out in anger over how I’ve been hurt rather than coming to You for healing. I pray with the Psalmist, “Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” (Psalm 51:11-12 NIV). In Jesus Name I pray, amen.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…