Death has no power over you or I. This is true because Christ rose from the dead. Yet, this truth can lose its punch only days after we celebrate the Lord’s rising from the dead. Why? At least one reason includes our static weakness of flesh. We are easily overcome by the problems of this world and the burdens of the day. So I know it’s only been a few days since our mutual celebration of Christ putting death to death, but let me ask you, how is your spirit?
Has your soul already been overcome by the various pain and struggles of this life? Perhaps they started on your way home from your Sunday service. Perhaps you carried them with you to church and they hung around and never left. If that is true of you, then you’re in good company.
The Burdens We Bear
Counselors bear people’s burdens. That’s a core element of my job description. I don’t say that in a braggadocios or complaining sense, but only in a meager attempt to ‘be real’ about the fact that suffering in this life continues, and everyday people are living as if they are being overcome. Death is “over there” but our suffering, hardship, difficulties and pain is right here in our face.
QUESTION: What in your life effectively functions as having power over you?
ACTIVITY: Take a moment, grab a pen and paper and jot it down. What comes to mind for you?
POSSIBLE ANSWERS: Jealousy, Anger, Shame, Rejection, Insecurity, Discouragement, Fear, Guilt, Malice, Lust, Defensiveness, Bitterness, Depression, Addiction, Anxiety, Pride, Grief, Envy, Greed, Hopelessness, Loneliness, Distance from God, Judgmentalism, Murmuring,
To name a few…
It doesn’t take much, I know. A slight inflection in tone from your spouse or boss can send you in a tailspin in any of these things. A medical diagnosis; a lost opportunity; a trauma reminder; noticing that others have something you want. In one sense, not to speak too harshly, we are a fragile people. We are weak and needy and are prone to being easily overcome.
So what are we to do when the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ feels as if it has lost its luster?
Here are three things to you can do:
Number One: Hope in God
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.
Before the age of psychotherapy there were the Psalms. And when David, like billions of us around the world throughout history, suffered from what today may be described as “clinical depression” he engaged in what we would now describe as self-talk. But this self-talk was soul self-talk.
David was not terribly concerned about his self-esteem inasmuch as he was concerned about the state of his soul.
In this Psalm, we see him take great introspective notice of the condition of his soul and he properly asks of it: Why are you downcast? Why so disturbed?
Indeed, it would be good to have a counselor help us make sense of what may be triggers in our lives that lay behind our downcast moments. I think Proverbs 20:5 makes a simple case for this: The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
However, what one does next is infinitely more important, and this is where much of secular therapy falls deathly short. The reason this is so important is because whether we have the answer to what causes our debilitating states of being, we still end up needing to do something with our pain, with our hardship and difficulty. We need to do something with that thing that has overcome us. We need to do something with our anger, with our grief, with our ( fill in the blank ).
Moreover, it is better for me to say and for us to realize: We are already actively doing something with our ( fill in the blank ). Are you numbing it, indulging in it, denying it? Another way to put this, because we still emote, we still live and breath, therefore every moment we are putting hope in something.
Christ our Object
I am what one may call a presuppositional-hopist: That is to say, we are actively hoping in something whether we are aware of it or not. The question we must answer is, what is the object of our hope?
The Christian aims to put their hope in a person; namely, Christ. Christ is the object of our hope. His resurrection serves as the principle rationale behind why it makes sense for us to do this.
Notice, David doesn’t pontificate for reasons concerning his misery in the way Job might. Rather, his automatic thought response is, Put your Hope in God. He tells his soul what to do. He tells it what to do because otherwise, he will divest his attention and energy into things that will never truly satisfy him.
Knowing this, he does soul-self-talk: Put your hope in God. It’s almost as if to suggest, what else would one do? What else could one do?
Hope in God is the substantive and lasting solution to the problems that overcome us. And our hope in God is a daily exercise and it’s a work that involves our heart but also our minds. I think of Paul’s point in 2 Cor 10:5 “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
It is because of the resurrection of Christ that makes our hope in Christ a sustainable hope. If Christ is not raised then we not only in dead in our sins. Indeed, we would have reason to be hopeless. (1 Cor 15:17)
Numbers 2 & 3 will be covered in the second part of this article. But here is a sneak peak to where I am going.
Answering the question: What are we to do when the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ feels as if it has lost its luster?
Number Two: Find a Friend
Number Three: Define the new prayer for your soul
In the meantime, I would love to hear from you.
What things do you do when the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ feels as if it has lost its luster? How do you find restoration for yourself when your soul is overcome by the burdens and pain of the world?
*This article was also published in the CCFS Newsletter. You can find that publication HERE.