What are we running to that we think will take our problems away?
Just let that question ponder in your mind for a minute…
I think we all know what the answer to this question ought to be (Jesus), but is that the honest answer? I’d like to think that Jesus is my #1 and he’s the one I run to first and foremost; however, I must admit that this is not always the case. I’m human and I sin. And I err in my ways more often than I would like.
Some days, especially after an emotionally draining day, all I want to do is come home, put on my comfiest sweater, grab a cup of coffee or tea, cuddle up in my softest blanket, and lose myself in the world of entertainment (AKA Netflix) or a book. Now, Netflix can definitely become unhealthy, or any substantial amount of watching TV or playing video games or whatever it is you do; but several of you are probably thinking, “How can reading be considered…bad?” Well, when I find myself seeking the pages of a book to escape my reality, I need to do an internal check. Lately this one hasn’t been as big an issue, mainly because the books I’m reading are about Jesus, but it has been a problem in the past.
The main point I’m trying to get at here is this: the ways that each of us use to unwind or seek comfort are not in themselves a bad thing, but they can be when we run to them before we run to God.
In today’s world, I’ve noticed that it’s so easy for people, young and old, to run to another person for comfort. It’s almost second nature to us to cling to the words and actions of comfort from another person, especially the opposite gender. Let’s be real, we were created for relationships. God created relationships! He desires for us to have fellowship with others and to share our burdens with them. BUT, this part is important, we were FIRST created to LOVE GOD. And to seek Him before anything else. Yes, by all means, build relationships with others, whether it is a friend or a family member or a potential spouse, but please please please remain focused on Christ first and foremost.
I get it, I really do, the temptation to run to things of this world in search of comfort, love, or acceptance is incredibly appealing. But I also know that God is better than all that. Losing my dad made this a reality for me. When my heart was shattered in a million pieces and I didn’t know which way was up, there were a lot of things I could have done to try to take the pain away. I may never fully understand how, but God didn’t let that happen. I sometimes just sit and reflect on those days and wonder in amazement at how the Lord protected me. The minute I arrived at the hospital, my knees barely left the ground. I cried out to God like never before. I pleaded with him. I held onto my daddy for dear life, willing life into him. I prayed for a miracle. But God, whose ways are far greater than mine, had a different plan in store. And after realizing this hard truth, my prayer changed. I bowed down in utter despair and begged God to help me. And he did. And he hasn’t stopped. And he never will stop.
As we all know, people are not perfect and we all have failed. People will hurt you. People will die. People will forget. People will just not care. But God will never fail you. He will never leave you. And he will never stop loving you.
However, I knew how easy it would be for my imperfect human mind to forget that truth. So, I adamantly clung to Jesus, and made decisions to make sure I wouldn’t seek comfort away from him. The first year after losing a loved one is hard. It’s pretty much the very worst, second only to losing him in the first place. So, I told myself to avoid any and all dating type relationships. This year has been critical in focusing on my walk with Christ and learning how to live life without a dad. And throwing a significant other into that mix simply wouldn’t be wise. And I especially didn’t want to become dependent on seeking my comfort from another.
I also avoided alcohol for a while. Alcohol never really appealed to me in the first place and I rarely drank it, but I knew how cautious I had to be. Most people who struggle with alcohol don’t exactly start drinking with the mindset to become addicted to it. And I certainly didn’t want to fall into the lie that alcohol would make me feel better or help me to forget.
It’s extremely important to be aware of our choices and what we gravitate towards in troubling times, whether it is a bad day at work or losing a loved one. This choice may seem simple at first, but it can easily become a more complicated mess if not careful. But friends, hope can be found at the cross. The cross Jesus Christ died on so that we may come to know him. I urge you to look to him when you feel like you can’t keep going. Or in those moments where you feel your strength failing. Cry out to the ultimate Father and lay your burdens at his feet. Ask him to provide the rest that you need. And I can promise you that you will find the fulfillment, comfort, strength, joy, and peace that you are in search of.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. // Colossians 3:2
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. // Isaiah 41:10