The Commonality of Distress: 3 Observations
Distress is common to all people. How common are you?
Psalm 71:20 says: You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
I drive by homes regularly that look like they should be in Beirut. When I see them, they usually remind me of someone I’ve met in ministry. The pain of those homes I see in the eyes and hearts of so many in our community.
I grieve when I think about the pain and suffering of people, especially when it seems to be no fault of their own. I doubly grieve when I see the distress in someone’s life and there is a tangible reality that they’re ignoring that would alleviate that suffering. One way or another, God’s saints go through hardships that are undeniable, and we must ask the Lord’s intervention to free up their bodies and minds with the message of Gospel restoration and we must plead for our Heavenly Father to make all things new.
Here are a three observations on the distressed nature of our lives:
(1) Sin moves mountains just as much as faith.
If there’s a will, there’s a way. We like to think on the positive side of that statement, but the sinister is also a reality. We can get really creative on what we do to improve our situations and this world, but we can also get really creative when it comes to satisfying our sin. We’ll move earth and we’d move the stars if we could to get a few extra bucks in our pocket or if we thought it would be meaningful.
We can become distressed when we get overly ambitious while neglecting to understand the Lord’s part in our work. When we forget why we are doing something, the Gospel has the power to be lost. It is a constant decision, but we must always strive to lead with the Gospel, and move mountains for the sake of faith and God-praising glory.
Next time you’re trying to move that mountain, examine your intentions.
(2) Revival isn’t meant to be done just under a tent.
I love the stories of big-tent revivals from times past, and how a powerful preacher, through the power of God, was able to shake the hearts of a community back toward God, or perhaps toward Him in the first place. The goal was that what happened under the tent didn’t stay under the tent. The story of faith started there was meant to make a difference in that community, and lives were meant to be altered by Jesus in the heart.
Distress doesn’t just happen before the preacher shows up, and it’s not something that you can necessarily plan for. It happens, and it’s gonna happen to you! If that’s the case, we must have a revival theology that says that God doesn’t just show up at church or where the holy people happen to be gathering. He works in all places, in all kinds of ways, and we need to start celebrating how God has restored things, even when we didn’t realize it! We need to start looking for more places where God is starting something, and be willing to jump on board and/or help out as much as we can. We don’t necessarily have to wait for an outcry of distress to start a revival; God knows the distress and He’s already working.
Let’s reinvent the feel-good concept of revival and see if God won’t do something greater.
(3) There’s no low-point the Lord can’t turn into a resurrection.
Would there be any harm in thinking of some of the really, really low points in our lives as a point of death so we can call upon the Lord for a resurrection? Wouldn’t that make the road upward that much more glorious and opportunistic to give Him praise? Maybe then we wouldn’t be waiting around to see the next Lazarus, but we could consider ourselves as Lazarus, renewed in part or in full by the merciful ways of our Savior. If this were the case, I think we would see God working so much more fully in our circumstances and in this world.
I think that some people think that their situation is too overwhelming for the Lord to conquer. If He conquered death, He can conquer a dead battery in your car or the new transmission you need. He can certainly conquer that lost job or the lack of food on your family’s table or the third time you’ve lapsed back into addiction.
Call for a resurrection; I don’t think it demeans the Resurrection, but intensifies it in our lives.
There’s a lot of distress and a lot of ways distress happens. When we consistently look to the Lord for guidance and healing, we’ll see how He has already started working. God’s never turned away the faithful for trusting in Him. Amen.