Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” – Tecumseh

I was listening to some old Jackson Brown songs the other day. Not sure why. Just felt like it I suppose. A trip down memory lane chasing days long ago forgotten. This one song titled “For a Dancer” caught my attention. More about that later.

I recently read an interview with this singer, songwriter, and liberal social activist. Jackson (his first name is actually Clyde) was asked about his religious beliefs and part of his response included these remarks:

“I’m not a member of an organized religion or faith. My grandmother was Lutheran. My mother belonged to the Unitarian Church… (Unitarianism) it’s a way of applying progressive ideas, social ideas, ideas about society, to the form of worship. But the truth is, I am religious. I think I practice a kind of religion, though I don’t have to say that I do at all.”

I tried to wrap my brain around Mr. Brown’s logic. His Grandmother was a denominational Christian, his mother a quasi-Christian (Unitarian) and Jackson, well, he seems unsure about how to define his spiritual position, He claims to be “religious” and “thinks” he practices “a kind of religion.” But really, what does that mean?

During the interview, Jackson Brown spoke of his Baptist friend (a youth choir director) named Fred. He recalled how he had once told him,

“Fred, I believe in the teachings of Christ …but these same beliefs are held by others.” (He then mentioned Hindus and Islamists). “One of the things that Christianity believes that I can’t really adhere to is the idea that unless you are a Christian (a follower of Jesus), you won’t go to heaven. That’s leaving an awful lot of people out.”

Apparently, Jackson Brown follows a creed that is a conglomeration of everything that he is comfortable believing. Hundreds of millions of people around the world sit in that pew. Their “religion” is whatever they deem as spiritually acceptable to them. In simple terms, they create a god-concept in their own tolerable image. This god will only be what they think he should be and never what they find objectionable. Does that sound like a holy, all powerful, and self-determining God to you? Not really.

Try calling this group to spiritual accountability and they often bristle with anger as they attempt to defend their position with some nebulous response like, “I don’t believe in a god who would do, or say, or require something like that.” Really? On what do you base this perception of God? Frequently, their doctrines are pulled from thin air. Eventually many of them end up atheists or “happy agnostics” at the very least. Listen to me, any god that answers to YOU and must pass YOUR test of acceptability is no god at all. An omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God could care less what you think about how he runs the universe. He is in control and you are NOT. Period. Even if you chose to deny His existence, nothing changes. People who deny gravity still fall out of trees.

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ― Anne Lamott

In all honestly, I actually like some of Jackson Browns music. We may have very little in common socially or politically, but he is an exceptionally gifted, and thoughtful singer songwriter and a caring human being. That brings me back to his 1973 composition “For a Dancer”. Here is some of what Mr. Brown had to say about this song in the interview,

“I wrote the song… for a friend of mine who died in a fire. He was in the sauna in a house that burned down, so he had no idea anything was going on. It was very sad. He was a really interesting guy… He had this great-spirit, and when he died, it was a tragedy to everyone that knew him… He was a Renaissance man.”

Clearly, Jackson Brown thought very highly of his friend, and to lose him in such a tragic way touched Brown’s heart. His friend suffered an untimely demise, and Jackson Brown suffered a painful loss. Grief often causes us to pause and ask questions, like, “what is death all about anyway?” Here is a brief excerpt from that tribute song, For a Dancer,

“I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening.”

Interesting. Jackson Brown can’t grasp what happens when we die. He can hear deaths song clearly; He is drawn to listen to it, but he cannot comprehend the meaning nor sing along. If I am correct in my interpretation, Brown doesn’t understand the profound implications of every human death. This is what happens when your house is built on shifting sand and you have no anchor for your soul. As a Christian, my source of wisdom, knowledge and understanding is found in the amazing words of Scripture. Passages like this:

18“So in this matter, God, wishing to show beyond doubt that his plan was unchangeable, confirmed it with an oath. So that by two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a source of strength, and might grasp the hope that he holds out to us. 19This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very certainty of God himself in Heaven, 20awhere Jesus has already entered on our behalf…” (Hebrews 6:18-20a – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

We who are refugees from this dying world can find strength in times of adversity by looking to the one who created human kind, and holding on to the hope we find in every promise he has made to us. Wow.

Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.” ― C.S. Lewis

Today is a good day for me. It’s February in Florida. I’m sitting outside writing, and enjoying the sunshine of a 70 degree afternoon . But I am also thinking about my youngest sister. Two years ago this month she died a miserable death riddled with and ravaged by cancer. She suffered greatly near the end. She was only 46. It broke my heart. I cried. But I never questioned why. Because I knew the answer. Thankfully, I can grasp what happens when people die.

That knowledge did not come to me from a “god-concept” based upon what I pick and choose to accept as true and thus use to create for myself a comfortable “religion”. I am an ordinary Bible believing Christian. I have faith in what the Judaeo-Christian scriptures teach about death and that gives me both peace and comfort in a world short on both. Here are just two theological statements on this difficult subject taken from the Bible’s Newer Testament:

27“It is appointed for all men to one day die and after that they will pass to their judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27)

1-4 “We know, for instance, that if our earthly dwelling (our body) were taken down, like a tent, we have a permanent house in Heaven, made, not by man, but by God. In this present frame we sigh with deep longing for the heavenly house, for we do not want to face utter nakedness when death destroys our present dwelling—these bodies of ours. So long as we are clothed in this temporary dwelling (our body) we have a painful longing, not because we want just to get rid of these “clothes” but because we want to know the full cover of the permanent house that will be ours. We want our transitory life (on earth) to be absorbed into the life that is eternal (when we die).” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

Death, my dear friends, is not the end. Death is only the beginning. Nevertheless, people fight to stay alive and many will even spend all that they have to keep death at bay. No matter, we’ll still succumb to the hand of this grim foe. Death is inevitable. It is our destiny. There is nothing we can do to stop it.

Christianity teaches the positive side of death. Those who have placed their trust in the Liberator Jesus know that death is simply the doorway into a new dimension of freedom from this earthly life in exile from the God who made us. According to the ancient texts, we are all estranged from our creator and stranded here on spaceship earth. Death will one day free us from the burden of earthly suffering and absorb us back into the eternal realm where we belong. Until then, we are subject to the ever changing state of affairs produced by the progressive decline and fall of planetary societies due largely to human depravity.

Christianity, while acknowledging the presence of suffering, declares that life can be infinitely worth living and opens the way to eternal life in fellowship with God Who so loved the world that He gave Himself in Christ.” – Kenneth Scott Latourette

I know what some of you are thinking, “But why all the innocent suffering?” and “Where is this loving and caring God you talk about. Why doesn’t he intervene? It just does not seem fair. Even if God is not the cause, why doesn’t he just put an end to this madness once and for all?” He will. If you have ever studied Biblical texts you should already be familiar with how he plans to do it. As to when, only He knows. And that is what can make this journey seem so hard. Here is an interesting verse of scripture for you to ponder:

6-8 “And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that (Jesus, the) Christ died for sinful men. In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that (Jesus, the) Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Jesus lived, suffered and died by the same rules of life that we all must follow. As the Liberator of mankind, He suffered and breathed His last breath to open a pathway into an eternal dimension. The execution of Jesus was a necessary part of His redemption strategy. Within its mystery lies the proof of how much God cares about us and a promise of a future life clothed in an immortal body that is suffering-free. The tormented souls, the cancer stricken, the accident victims, the unloved, lost and lonely — everyone who has suffered — will suffer no more. As described in the book of Revelation – In that new world order – God will dwell with his people.

4“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”. (Revelation 21:4)

Let us pray for that day to come swiftly.

Almighty God, some will hear your voice today. Perhaps they will choose to look more carefully at what they believe. Over thousands of years you have caused the scriptures to be compiled, preserved and protected so that we might acquire an accurate understanding of who you are and what you have done for the rescue of mankind. Many are called. Few are chosen. Work in the hearts of your chosen today I pray. In the name of my Liberator Jesus, AMEN.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not just to endure storms, but to choose the right ways while they rage.” – Henry B. Eyring

Rabbi Harold Kushner tells of a personal tragedy that changed the course of his life. He began to question everything he had been taught about God. Rabbi Kushner’s son, Aaron, died at age 14 of progeria. If you are unfamiliar with this disease, it is best described as the accelerated aging disease. At his death, Aaron was a short, bald and wrinkled old man in appearance even though he was only 14. In his book, Rabbi Kushner asked: “If God existed, if He was minimally fair, let alone loving and forgiving, how could He do this to me?”

Rabbi Kushner is not alone in his queries. Millions of people ask similar questions every day. Like stormy seas with billowing waves driven by fierce winds, life can toss us to and fro. This world is full of pain, suffering, sadness, madness and sorrow. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Let’s talk about it.

Why do the innocent suffer? Why should anyone suffer for that matter?  If God exists, if He is really made of love and full of mercy, how could He allow all of the atrocities and suffering to go on in this world? That’s a question that has haunted mankind since the beginning of our exile on this planet. Rabbi Kushner asked the question this way, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Can we make sense of our world, and our sufferings in this world? Sometimes we can. But often we cannot.

Decades of pondering biblical texts has opened my eyes to this truth: humanity is by nature desperately wicked and was left stranded on this planet, long ago, banished to a life of exile. The Creator has kept an eye on his creation down through the ages. There are many lessons to be learned by we foolish mortals. He has watched over us, raised up a few prophets now and then and occasionally intervened. Then one day, he did something extraordinary. God took on human form and visited this planet to reveal a plan for both our redemption and for our survival. He came to us as the Liberator Jesus, declaring, I am the way, the truth and the (genuine) life (John 14:6). His story is recorded in the Scriptures.

Believers refer to the Bible as the Word of God – and with good reason. The combined older and newer testaments are a compilation of divinely inspired truth written down in 66 volumes by more than 40 different supernaturally influenced authors over a period of 1500 years. These writers came from all walks of life and yet the Bible came together as an extremely cohesive manuscript. In its pages we find answers to life’s greatest challenges – including how to handle the stormy seas of everyday existence.

We all have life storms, and when we get the rough times and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful that you can find.” – Mattie Stepanek

Questions about suffering affect all of us in some way. Even if we are fortunate enough to escape tragic accident or severe illness, we all have our problems. For some it may be fear or loneliness. Others battle depression due to rejection, divorce, relationship issues, etc., etc. Hunger, wars and different brutalities plague humanity. For sure, none of us will escape the final tragedy known as death.

Some may ask, “If Jesus came to set the captives free, then why is there so much pain and suffering here on earth?  Is there a purpose for all this distress?” Let me offer you five statements followed by quotations from the Bible that may help you to understand how a Christian resolves that irony.

Suffering helps keep in perspective our true condition in a lost and declining world.

18-21 “In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! ” (Rom. 8:18-21 – J.B. Phillips)

Suffering teaches us that life is an endurance race and the course is laid out for us by God.

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. (Heb. 12:1-4 – New Living Translation)

Suffering teaches us that temporary unhappiness will one day end in timeless joy.

 12-15 “And now dear friends of mine, I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience. You should be glad, because it means that you are called to share Christ’s sufferings. One day, when he shows himself in full splendor to men, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy. If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a great privilege, for you can be sure that God’s Spirit of glory is resting upon you.” (1 Pet. 4:12-15 – Phillips)

Suffering can sometimes be a part of a sovereign work of God in our lives.

1As he (Jesus) was walking along, he observed a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that God’s work might be revealed in him. I must do the work of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is approaching, when no one can work. As long as I’m in the world, I’m the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he spread the mud on the man’s eyes and told him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “Sent One”). So he went off, washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:1-7 – Phillips)

Suffering (hardship & trials) can enable others to observe God at work within us.

 7-11 “This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar—to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us. We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives.” (2 Cor. 4:7-11 Phillips).

There isn’t always a cut and dry solution to the problem of why we suffer. And maybe, that is really the wrong question to put forward. Perhaps we should make these enquirers instead:

  • What is the purpose for my life here on this earth?
  • What future does God have for me beyond this temporary ride on spaceship earth?

Our lives do have a definite purpose – even when living doesn’t make sense, negative circumstances abound and everything seems so unfair. All of the answers you seek are stored within you. The creator has written them upon the tablets of your human spirit. Think of them as being encoded in your DNA. The more you get to know the God who put them there, the more he can show you his plan for your life.

There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you’ll stand firm if you stand on His love.” – Charles Stanley

As God in human form, Jesus suffered and died at the hands of his own creation. But that was his purpose in life – the reason he came to the earth. It was written in his spotless DNA. The death of Jesus bridged the gap between the Creator and the created. It also opened the door to a different dimension (we call it the spirit world) where he put things back in order. He didn’t stay dead very long. Three days after he was buried, he walked out of the grave in the full glory of a resurrected body to become the liberator of all those who would believe in Him.

Like Jesus, our mortal bodies will all eventually die. But we won’t cease to exist. We too (the righteous dead who have followed the Jesus plan) will live again in bodies of endless existence. Our death will also open for us the door to a different dimension (the spirit world). In that place of everlasting life after death, the tormented souls, the cancer stricken, the accident and murder victims, the unloved, the lost and lonely, along with all of the aborted children — everyone who has or ever will suffer — will hurt no more.

I know, all of this can sound a bit farfetched – even crazy. But not when you dig in and really learn about the mission and the message of the Liberator Jesus. That however, will take you some time and an open heart. If you have never done so, I would encourage you to get busy. After all, only a fool rejects that of which he has no real knowledge and understanding. And I know that you are not a fool, right?

Those of us who have found our way within the Son, we’ll keep praying for you as we watch and wait for his return.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

Rabbi Harold Kushner tells of a personal tragedy that changed the course of his life. He began to question everything he had been taught about God. Rabbi Kushners son, Aaron, died at age 14 of progeria. If you are unfamiliar with this disease, it is best described as the accelerated aging disease. At his death, Aaron was a short, bald and wrinkled old man in appearance even though he was only 14. In his book, Rabbi Kushner asked: “If God existed, if He was minimally fair, let alone loving and forgiving, how could He do this to me?”

Why do the innocent suffer?

Why should anyone suffer for that matter?  It’s a question that has haunted mankind since the beginning of our time. It may be one of the most important issues of our lives. Rabbi Kushner asked the question this way, “why do bad things happen to good people?”

Can we make sense of our world, and our sufferings in this world?

Maybe. Maybe not. But we can turn to the word of God for help in dealing with the challenges of our lives here on this planet we call earth.

Why ME God?

Questions about suffering affect all of us in some way. Even if we are fortunate enough to escape tragic accident or severe illness, we all have our problems. For some it may be fear or loneliness. Others battle depression due to rejection, divorce, relationship issues, etc., etc. Hunger, war and brutality plague humanity. And none of us will escapes the final tragedy known as death.

 Is there a purpose for all this Distress?

  1. Suffering keeps us focused on the true state of this broken world.
    • 18 I am sure that our suffering now cannot be compared to the shining-greatness that He is going to give us. 19 Everything that has been made in the world is waiting for the day when God will make His sons known. 20 Everything that has been made in the world is weak. It is not that the world wanted it to be that way. God allowed it to be that way. Yet there is hope. 21 Everything that has been made in the world will be set free from the power that can destroy. These will become free just as the children of God become free. 22 We know that everything on the earth cries out with pain the same as a woman giving birth to a child. 23 We also cry inside ourselves, even we who have received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the first of God’s gifts to us. We are waiting to become His complete sons when our bodies are made free. [Rom. 8:18-23 – New Life Version]
  1. Suffering teaches us to depend more on God and less on this world system.
    • 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. [Heb. 12:1-4 – New Living Translation]
  1. Suffering reminds us that future eternal bliss trumps temporary happiness.
    • 18 I am sure that our suffering now cannot be compared to the shining-greatness that He is going to give us. [Rom. 8:18 – New Life Version]
    • 13 Be happy that you are able to share some of the suffering of Christ. When His shining-greatness is shown, you will be filled with much joy. [1 Pet. 4:13 – New Life Version]
    • Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. [Ps. 126:4-6 – New Living Translation]
    • To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored. [Isa. 61:3 – New Life Version]
  1. Suffering can focus our attention on the sovereign work of God in our lives.
    • 1 As Jesus went on His way, He saw a man who had been born blind. 2 His followers asked Him, “Teacher, whose sin made this man to be born blind? Was it the sin of this man or the sin of his parents?” 3 Jesus answered, “The sin of this man or the sin of his parents did not make him to be born blind. He was born blind so the work of God would be seen in him. 4 We must keep on doing the work of Him Who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no man can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 After Jesus had said this, He spit on the ground. He mixed it with dust and put that mud on the eyes of the blind man. 7 Then Jesus said to him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” (Siloam means Sent.) The man went away and washed. When he came back, he could see. [John 9:1-6 – New Life Version]
  1. Our trials help others see that God is the source of all things in our lives.
    • For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[a] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” [2 Cor. 4:8-9].

 Conclusion

There isn’t always a cut and dry answer to the question of why we suffer.

And maybe, it’s really the wrong question to ask. Perhaps we should ask these questions instead:

  • What purpose is there to life?
  • What future does God have beyond this life of suffering for me?

As unfair as it may appear at times, our lives have a definite purpose.

Jesus lived, suffered and died by the same rules of life that we live and suffer and die by. Jesus, as God incarnate, suffered and died for human beings, to take away their sins and open up salvation for those who would believe on Him.

The crucifixion is proof of how much God cares about us. And, in the future resurrection of the righteous dead, God will transform our mortal human flesh into immortal bodies and make our new lives suffering-free. The tormented souls, the cancer stricken, the accident victims, the unloved, lost and lonely — everyone who has suffered — will suffer no more.

God will swallow up suffering and death in the victory of eternal life. In that day, God will be acknowledged by all humanity. He will act as eternal healer and life-giver. He will be recognized by all as the one who is fair and just. In that day, He will take no pleasure in human suffering.

As described in the book of Revelation – In that new world order – God will dwell with his people. Revelation chapter 21:4 tells us: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”.

Let us pray for that day to come swiftly.

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

#1 Get in the Game

It is our responsibility to discover and develop our unique aptitudes and apply ourselves in developing our full potential.

10 “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither you go.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10

God expects us to use our talents in profitable and productive ways here on earth.

22 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:22

  • POINT: Be a DO what the word says person, not someone who sits on the sidelines of life. This is NOT a spectator sport.

13 I can do all things because Christ gives me the strength.”  – Philippians 4:13

  • POINT: I can do all things. All things? That is what he said – ALL THINGS!

Why? Because, my strength comes from God; it isn’t up to me to be strong on my own.

#2 Maintain a Positive Focus

Negative emotions often result from focusing on mistakes of the past. If God has forgiven our sins, then why should we not forgive ourselves? Dwelling on past blunders perpetuates negative thought patterns and emotions. We must live for the day and focus on the future, not the past.

13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.  – Phil. 3:13-14

Paul made some mistakes in his past. He said that he chose to forget what is in the past and focus instead on the future. The goal of fulfilling our calling is in THE PRESENT and THE FUTURE, not the past.

#3 Ask God for His Assistance

If you find yourself spiraling downward into depression, ASK God to help you.

First: Remember:

  • God is the source of our strength.
  • He knows the proper responses for our particular situation.
  • He has given us His Spirit to overcome negative forces impacting our lives.

Since God is the source of all good things, we must ask for His aid.

7 “Ask, and what you are asking for will be given to you. Look and what you are looking for you will find. Knock and the door you are knocking on will be opened to you. 8 Everyone who asks receives what he asks for. Everyone who looks finds what he is looking for. Everyone who knocks has the door opened to him. 9 What man among you would give his son a stone if he should ask for bread? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, would he give him a snake? 11 You are bad and you know how to give good things to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”  – Matt. 7:7-11

#4 Get Your Thinking Straight

What are your mental debates like? What contemplations fill your mind?

  • The worries of daily life?
  • The emotional pain you are suffering?
  • Hurt feelings?
  • Physical pains?
  • Your economic circumstances?

If so, your’ thinking stinks!

  • Instead, set your mind on THE truth!
  • Focus on the kingdom of God above everything else!
  • Live as a man or woman who is true and transparent before God

Jesus put it this way…

33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.  – Matt. 6:33

Everything we need comes to us when we fix our mind on things above and focus on God’s kingdom while we live within a right (i.e. righteous) relationship with Him.

Paul told the Christians at Colossi…

1 “If then you have been raised with Christ, keep looking for the good things of heaven. This is where Christ is seated on the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds thinking about things in heaven. Do not think about things on the earth.” – Col. 3:1-2

Paul’s instruction to God’s people makes it crystal clear that we must refocus our thinking to a different level, to have an optimistic view in this mundane evil world.

8 “and now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you”. – Phil. 4:8-9

Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good reports, virtue and praise are not views upon which the world commonly focuses. The news media, business community, governments and educational institutions do not generally bring about this type of thought pattern. Therefore, to remain positive in a negative world, we must sidestep this world’s agenda and reflect on God’s point of view.

#5 Obedience Promotes a Positive Outlook

God’s Word tells us that to obey is better than sacrifice (I Sam. 15:22). Obedience to God’s Way brings many blessings, not the least of which is an optimistic view of our life. Being in harmony with God’s laws brings confident assurance that our lives have value and that God will guide us. Notice the tangible blessings that bring contentment into our lives when we obey God:

  • Peace: “Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
  • Vision: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18).
  • Favor: “My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of your heart: So shall your find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:1-4).
  • Requests Granted: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).

As we walk with God, we will recognize our need to claim more of His promises. Our faith will increase as we see God actively helping us each day. We can overcome the blues; deal with bad attitudes, solve unresolved problems, settle disputes, and calm our anxiety and fear.

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.