July 29, 2012

1 Timothy 4:9-10 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

This passage just taught me a Japanese term with which I was not familiar, but which expresses something we all experience. Where the NIV says “labor and strive,” the Japanese says “labor and have heart suffering.” It’s that “heart suffering” that rang a bell for me. It is well known and understood that emotional factors can be just as exhausting as physical labor, if not more so. That’s certainly true for a pastor! That’s why our heart attitude is so important. Whatever our bodies are doing, our hearts need to be resting in Christ. That’s why Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) (The NIV says “weary and burdened” there, but Scripture learned in childhood stays with you!) Many preachers have taught on this theme, using such expressions as “an attitude of gratitude,” and “God will never bring you to anything He will not bring you through.” These different expression are all good and helpful, because it takes a lot to get this truth through our heads. That’s why the Bible tells us so many times not to be anxious. (I couldn’t begin to list all the references!) Physical burdens are easily set down, and the relief is immediate, but emotional burdens are far harder to let go of. Paul certainly experienced them, as He says in Galatians 4:19-20. Comparing them to the pain of childbirth is a pretty extreme example! Everyone is faced with such burdens, but a Christian has the opportunity and the instructions from Jesus to release them to Him and let Him carry them. What an enormous blessing!

I’ve lived with the Lord long enough to be able to tell, most of the time, when I am trying to carry emotional burdens by myself, and I have certainly learned the futility of it! That’s why it’s painful to me to see brothers and sisters in Christ who seem completely unable to release their emotional burdens to Christ. The devil tries to blind us to the possibility, and he fills our minds with “what if” scenarios. If we yield to that, we are totally worn out in no time! Faith is a gift, (Ephesians 2:8) and as such it must be received, which is a conscious choice. Recently I was enormously encouraged by one of the believers here who, when confronted with something that looked humanly difficult, said, “I choose to believe.” That’s the attitude I need to have in myself, and that I need to foster in all the believers.

Father, to human eyes, life is certainly a succession of mountains, and some of them seem pretty steep. Help me, help us all, see them from Your perspective and realize that from heaven, they will look as smooth as glass. I pray for several in this church who are facing what they see as difficult situations. Help them rest in You, realizing that nothing is difficult for You. Help me maintain that same attitude, being faithful to do all that You show me but doing it in the power that You pour through me, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You every moment, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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