When I hear people say that they seldom read the Bible, I feel sorry for them. They are depriving themselves of some great help that can make their lives much more pleasant, secure, and challenging. I wonder if most of us do not have to battle unhealthy thoughts that create fears, depressions, low-self images, and guilt just to mention a few enemies of happiness. One of my best helps in battling these unhealthy thoughts is reading God’s Word. I need to hear these words which can shape my life.
Here are a few samples:
“Then God said, ‘Let us create man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). I have a mind with which I can think, a will with which I can make a decision, and a soul that is eternal. I am the crowning work of God’s creation.
“As your day is, so will your strength be. The eternal God is your resting place and underneath are His everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:25, 27). These words brought comfort to my wife’s soul after a major stroke and she was not able to express herself. With these promises her soul was at peace.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4). I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know He will be with me.
“He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Corinthians 10:12). Satan never leaves us alone but he cannot destroy us since God will sustain and comfort us His children if they will call on Him.
Then look at this verse, which is our text today. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of Him called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10). Here are a few examples showing how biblical truths can and have spoken to unhealthy thoughts.
I AM A NOBODY
Jim, five years younger than Bob, is asked, “Are you Bob’s brother?”
“Yes, I am,” Jim answers, but he is sick and tired of being asked that question. What Jim would like to say is, Don’t expect as much of me as you got from Bob. When the talents were passed out in our family, they were not divided equally. There are many people who have lived an entire life feeling they were a nobody.
As much as some of us enjoy athletics, not having enough athletic talent to be a part of the team has had some serious affects on a lot of young people. A member of our family was fortunate enough to play professional baseball for many years. Then injury and age caught up with him and he was let go by the professional team.
In talking with him about his experience in the athletic world he told us that sooner or later the athlete will experience getting dropped from the team’s roster. Some have this experience in junior high school, others in high school while still others are not released from the team’s line up until they get to the college or professional level. Whether it be at 14 or 35 the athlete leaves feeling that he or she is no longer wanted. But then we are told that the athletic world prepares the person to face life as it is.
Two people are enjoying the responsible jobs of being bank presidents until the two banks are merged and then only one can be president. The one person celebrates his election to the new position, and the defeated person, who has given some of the best years of his life to the organization, is without employment. While he appears confident that something better is awaiting him in other employ, he shares his real feelings with his wife when he says, “I am a failure. No one wants me, and I am only 54 years old!”
It is in situations like these that God’s Word speaks. “You are a chosen person, you belong to a royal priesthood. You are God’s child, and He has an important place for you in His Kingdom.” It doesn’t mean that egos are not hurt. Fewer dollars may call for adjustments in the style of living, and sitting on the bench can be heart breaking, but underneath all of these feelings I can know that God has called me. He has a place for me. That’s the encouragement that God gives us in His Word. Isn’t it marvelous that while we are rejected by humans, God accepts us in Christ. He who has called us will never reject us. In His eyes we are important and precious, not because of what we have accomplished in life, but because of who we are – the crowning work of His creation.
I DON’T FIT IN
A person who has lost his or her spouse often has the feeling they do not fit in to society. While this is not true when the widow or widower is with friends, it is a reality to them at least until they work through their grief over the loss of the husband or wife. During those days of feeling like a misfit, the Bible gives us another picture: “You are a living stone being built into a spiritual house.” The house is Christ’s Church. He is the cornerstone and without you the wall is not complete. You are not a brick that is lying alone on the ground. God has picked you up and made you a part of His Church. All those who confess their faith in Christ are your brothers and sisters in Christ who make up this eternal Kingdom. Yes, there are those times when we feel that we are misfits in a segment of our society, but underneath these feelings we know that God is our Father, Christ is our Savior, and throughout this big world we find our brothers and sisters. In Christ we are one family. This is the security we have in Christ. What a pity to live with this conviction that we do fit in. There is always a place for us. We are needed.
I AM VIEWED AS A “FALLEN PERSON”
How easy it is for us to experience the coldness of human judgment, which can be ruthless.” Don’t you have mercy for a person when he has fallen?” the broken person asks. “Whatever happened to forgiveness?”
This agonizing person has a point. There is not a lot of mercy shown in our culture, but God has a word: “Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Christ has given His life that you might have another chance. “Neither do I condemn you,” were Jesus’ words to the woman accused of falling in adultery. They are the same words which come to the repentant sinner in any age and any culture. Isn’t it marvelous to be called out of darkness where there is no hope of starting over and into the light of the Gospel where there is always a new beginning. That’s grace, which makes all things new.
LIFE IS OVER
And then there is a word that can come from people of all ages, but is heard often among those who have left the working world and entered those years known as retirement. “There is nothing left for me in life. When I left my chosen work, all of life’s challenges went with it.”
“Not so,” God says. “You are called to declare the praises of him who saved you. You are Christ’s ambassador. He makes His appeal to this world through you.” Have you heard the cobbler’s answer when asked, “What do you do for a living?” He replied, “I make shoes to feed, house, and clothe my family. My job is to tell others of Christ.” The time came when he no longer worked as a cobbler, yet his witness for Christ continued until he died. The Christian’s witness grows stronger and stronger with the years. The enthusiasm of the new convert is thrilling to hear, but there are those who could well ask, “How long will his or her new found faith last?” The mature witness of the person who has walked with the Lord throughout his or her life has a genuineness to it which calls for respect and a listening ear.
Think of what blessings God can bring to our lives if we will take a few minutes every day to let Him shape our lives. Many of those unhealthy thoughts that we battle will no longer mold our personalities. The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will open our eyes and lead us out of the darkness and into the light as He guides us to face each event in life with God as our refuge and strength.