[Christ] is more precious than rubies. Nothing I desire can compare with [Him]. Long life is in [His] right hand and in [His] left hand are riches and honor.
A few years ago, after reading this passage, I journaled the following.
“Lord, I sometimes find it difficult to focus on this once Monday gets started. I find it easier to take control and conform to all that the world dictates as that which I should be concerned about. I put trust down as soon as I close my Bible or step out of church because I think that none of it applies in the real world. I think that I am all alone and that you are silent, a non-entity in the arena of life. I don’t see any sign of your presence where I am. I am surrounded by the loud secular voices that laugh at the idea of “God”. I return, read and then reconnect with you but then as soon as I step out of the door, I feel the need to armor up against the world. I don’t feel your assurance. Your word is the last thing I consider through my challenge. I step into the arena with my armor and I completely forget about you. I pretend at being spiritual but deep down I am battling to control and anticipate. Your Word is not near to me. I recall it only when I read and then it is too late. Decisions have been made, expectations already set. How do I incorporate you into me so that you are a part of all I do? I devote daily. I journal. I pray. I fellowship. I express gratitude but yet the world invades so easily and quickly. I am subjugated so thoroughly at the first hint of trouble. I go to my defaults of performance, control, anger, isolation, blame, comparison and defensiveness. I try to do all the right things. I say all the right words; I try to know the right people; I focus on self-projection and advertisement – because I see no one else representing me. I become less vulnerable and connecting, not trusting that I can be protected. When do I grow to the point of having a different default – one that trusts wholeheartedly during periods of uncertainty; one that invokes your name and your Word at the sight of trouble; one that continues in joy long after I have concluded my daily quiet time with you?”
Have you felt this way? It is as if you are walking through the motions of your Christianity and faith. You feel emptiness in the hope that you falsely express and recoil at those who seem to never seem burdened. Cognitively you understand God’s power, but intuitively you are pressed to call upon it. Past disappointments materialize doubts and you lack the energy to overcome the threshold of effort. God seems too archaic to help you navigate through the “modern” challenges of existential relevance, job performance management, adding value, employment deliverables, retirement planning and complicated family dynamics. You are faced with the lose-lose options of control or despair.
Two millennia ago, the apostle Paul recognized the fragility of this balance between the visible actuality and the invisible reality of Christ as Truth. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he writes:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed…. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18
As followers of Christ, it is normal to have our eyes refocused on the visible hardships of the world. There is nothing untrue about the pain and difficulty we face. We are not promised that feelings of despair will not seek to overtake us. The important thing is to recognize when this is happening and to inventory the various facets of our well-being – emotional, spiritual, mental, physical and relational. As a Christian Psychiatrist once shared with me, “we can acknowledge what is true, but cling to The Truth.” We are called to grow in our ability to balance the tension between the imperfection of this current world and the perfection of the Kingdom to which we belong. Employing accountability partners and trusted counselors are very helpful in this realm of subtle differentiation. Taking some time away to recharge can also be useful in helping us to focus our gaze on that which is meaningful and eternal – Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)