A cloud has shrouded me for the last several days. The loss of several loved ones, an anniversary of saying goodbye to another, the normal rhythms of life, or maybe the sinus infection that I thought was just allergies. Who knows? But it’s walking around in that fog that gets me. I know most of you can relate. These times come and go. It is better when they go.
Do these times take away my joy? No. However, those closest to me may wonder because the fog also cloaks my deepest desires and thoughts so that what they see does not look so pleasant. “Just because you feel bad doesn’t mean you have to make me feel bad”…this honest statement from my husband hit home. It was not said in an unkind way at all, and he was right. I’m glad he said it. We need truth, in love, and the truth may be the only thing that can open up the cloud.
My desire to build and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ is the reason I write this blog. One thing I know is that our enemy wants to steal our joy because that God-given joy may be the glue that holds together our hope, faith, and love. The joy we share, and the joy we experience. But if you think this joy is easy, think again. So I want to be transparent as well. The truth is that the disappointments, stress, fears, sad memories, loss, illness—whatever we face—can become a joyless battlefield.
A special friend wrote this about what she has been going through: “everyone has been telling me to rest and relax but it’s not about just sitting watching TV its sitting and being in His word getting my sword back in my pocket!”
She is exactly right. We turn to other things just to get our mind off the cloud, and before we know it, we feel distance from God. Pinterest, the hobby, reading, TV, keeping busy…are all okay things to do, unless we are using them to fix something that only our relationship with Christ can fix. Everything good comes from life lived in partnership with Him. He is our guide, teacher, and comforter. He saves us from this earthly life, and in that relationship with him, we are made new, heading toward a new life. The fog does not just insulate us from joy and love in earthly relationships, it blocks out the help that comes from our relationship with Christ. It can lead us to turn back to the old life, the ‘without Jesus life’, that only leads to death.
During a very stressful time in his ministry, Jesus sent the multitudes away and went up into the mountains to pray alone (see Matthew 14:22-23). He knew he needed some alone time with God. Jesus came to give us life; his whole experience on this earth was for the purpose of bringing salvation to people. He did not send the crowd away because he did not love them. He sent the crowd away so he could serve them completely. He had to maintain his relationship with the Father in order to obey what God wanted him to do.
We can understand how this works for us from what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:5-13 (ESV)
May your alone time with Him punch a big hole through the clouds.