Sometimes we can reach a place of desperation, and you don’t know where to turn to, but it’s not so much where to turn to but Who to turn to.
Turn to Him
In the Old Testament, God would often tell Israel to “turn back” or “turn to Me,” as if He desires that they repent of their sins, but Israel’s troubles, including their captivity, was because of their disobedience to God. In their final desperation, they cried out to Him. Only when they were broken and repentant did God hear and answer their prayer. This means the first place we turn to is to God and seek to find any sin that is unconfessed or besetting in our life. If you’re there right now, please read on. I want you to consider God’s Word and to seek solace and refuge there. The Lord God says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15). How will that glorify God? It will give glory to Jesus’ name because we pray in His name to the Father, and answered prayer always glorifies the Son. Plus, calling on God shows His that we’re utterly dependent upon Him, and that’s really what He wants anyway. The Apostle Peter, in addressing the severely persecuted church, wrote, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7).
Strength in Suffering
We have huge trees in our back yard. They’re pecan trees that are over a century old, and when the winds blow, as they always do in Kansas, they become stronger because the large branches grow more rapidly in order to resist the stiff southerly winds we have in Kansas during the summer. And in the drought periods, the trees have learned to send tap roots, deep into the soil, some 20 to 30 feet deep. The dry periods have forced the tree to search deep and wide for moisture, spreading its majestic root system out in a 40 foot circumference. The point is, the harsh, hot winds, and the dry, often rain-free summers in Kansas, force the tree to send deep roots but to also build stronger trunks as they resist the winds. In this light, James wrote, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). One year, a lot of our neighbor’s trees fell in a windstorm…but the century old pecans stood their ground. Their suffering had made them stronger and more able to resist the storms, and yes, even a few near misses by tornadoes.
I think the Gospel of John may be the most reassuring of all the gospels when you’re in desperate trouble. The gospel is full of people who were in desperate situations…desperate enough to do something about it, like approach the Lord Jesus Christ. They fell at His feet. They pleaded for His mercy. Today, if you hear His voice, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 10:28-30). The psalmist could rest at night, knowing that God “holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16). Remember God’s relationship to each child of His. The psalmist wrote, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). Jesus asks the rhetorical questions: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31).
If you know of someone who is in a desperate place right now, keep in contact with them, and check on them frequently to make sure they’re okay. Maybe you can share some of these Bible verses with them. Remember that Jesus, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb 5:8), so comfort one another as God’s comforted us through His Word, the Bible. There are dozens of “one another’s” in the New Testament, and that’s because we were created for relationships; with one another, but more importantly, with God. The Apostle Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-4). In other words, give others comfort when they need it, just like God gave comfort to us when we needed it. God comforts others but sometimes He uses us as a means to do so…if only we will let Him. Jesus understands as He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8).