Encouragement for the battle-weary Christian soldiers
Oh well, I'm tired and so weary but I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes
Till the Lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes
We're all familiar with the opening lines of that beautiful song, Peace in the Valley. It is a song of comfort and promise, based on verses of comfort and promise. (Psalm 23, John 14:27, Isaiah 11:6...).
I believe all true Christians are also familiar with that feeling itself from time to time, perhaps more than time to time. It seems sometimes that a permanent weariness has settled in and we all feel it. The weight of our sin and the world's sin presses down on us so heavily that 'going along' gets harder with each passing day. We're climbing a mountain with a heavy load that gets heavier with each passing step.
|Burdened. EPrata photo|
The wolves come and snarl and claw at us. The lions prowl closer and closer, ready to devour. The enemy combatants lob word-grenades at us when we stand up for the truth. In some places, they lob real grenades.
It is a wild and unforgiving world out there, sometimes worst of all in the church! People definitely don't want to hear about Jesus, sin, wrath, truth, vs. false doctrines today, do they?
The verse about tickled ears is coming alive before our eyes. (2 Timothy 4:3). I think wolves is a good and apt metaphor for those who reject the truth. When they surround us on social media or at home or in church or at work, they snarl and claw and do everything they can, including dirty tricks, to protect their false notions.
Paul experienced these things, constantly, from people he had nurtured and considered friends. He was betrayed over and over again by false converts who left him, (Demas), by true converts who went away (Mark), others who simply got drawn away into false teachings for a while or who became unruly (Corinthian church). In 2 Tim 4:16 Paul wrote that 'all left him' at his first defense. Ouch.
Of course, our highest example is Jesus, who was betrayed by an inner circle friend, by the Israelite people He had promised to deliver, and by the world. But He is full of grace and love and left his disciples (and us) with encouragement-
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In reading the verse, the phrase 'take heart' jumped out at me. I looked it up in the Lexicon. The Lexicon for the word 'take heart' is defined this way- and I hope all of you who are contending for the truth take heart from these words,
Take heart: tharséō (derived from /thársos, "emboldened from within") –Do we have social boldness? If we do, the world tries to beat it out of us. That is the weariness many western Christians are feeling now. We crave that peaceful valley.
--properly, bolstered within which supports unflinching courage
--literally, to radiate warm confidence (exude "social boldness")
tharséō ("emboldened to show courage") refers to God bolstering the believer, empowering them with a bold inner-attitude (to be "of good courage"). For the believer, 2293 /tharséō ("showing boldness") is the result of the Lord infusing His strength by His inworking of faith ("inbirthed persuasion," 4102 /pístis). Showing this unflinching, bold courage means living out the inner confidence (inner bolstering) that is Spirit-produced.
|Digital art, CC|
Contending for the faith is a process. We have faith in Jesus, He delivers the Spirit into us, the Spirit infuses us with Jesus' strength to endure trials, and the knowledge that He does this gives us our confidence, because it is His confidence. He empowers us with a bold inner attitude and in that way we are His lights. The light shines and encourages others. Yes, the light draws the moths but it also shines truth to eyes that are blind and hearts that are dark.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)
I am sure that though you're being buffeted, Jesus looks down and says to His holy angels, 'see that little light of mine? She is doing a good work for Truth in My name'.
We take the example of David, who lived a turbulent life. As I listened to the Phil Johnson sermon this morning called Sanctuary, Pastor Johnson said that the only peaceful time in David's entire life was when he was a boy and youth. One day he was called from the fields and anointed King, and his life was never peaceful or calm after that.
Yet from that turbulence, we have the Psalms, songs from David where he poured out his anguish onto the Lord and from which we receive our comfort. As Pastor Johnson said,
As he pours out his heart to the Lord, He naturally begins to focus his thoughts on the Lord, and there he finds hope in the midst of every trial, because he knows the Lord is faithful. And Psalm after psalm that begins on a note of fear or crushing sorrow closes with a profound expression of hope and faith.Turning your attention to Jesus helps loosen our burden as we lay it down before Him, and naturally then we ponder the greatness, tenderness, and faithfulness of our Shepherd. Focusing on Him, as Pastor Johnson said, helped David time and again
"...makes him look at his troubles from the perspective of eternity, and he realizes that even though it sometimes feels like he is on the precipice of hell, the trials of this life are as close to hell as he will ever come, but this is also is as close to heaven as his wicked adversaries will ever get.When you are surrounded by wolves because you've contended for the faith, whether online or in real life, turn to the Lord as your sanctuary. As you pour out your griefs to Him, you will find peace there as David did. Our Lord is faithful.
So, how can I go along when my strength fails? When I am so weary? I can do it
BECAUSE HE LIVES.
Sermon: Sanctuary, by Phil Johnson
Essay: Encouraging scriptures and explanations, by CARM
Devotionals: Spurgeon on the Psalms