Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are you miserable? That is, are you extremely unhappy, even looking at yourself in pity and despair?

Know this. Misery must come before mercy. You must taste first hand your own deplorable state. You must see yourself as powerless to change yourself, powerless to solve your dilemma. Really, you must honestly see your condition. If you do not see that you are in need of rescue, then you will never receive the only help that will save you from your miserable condition.

The world is filled with people who think and believe "I can change myself". However, I am not speaking of change from one deplorable condition to another. Some say "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps". And indeed folks do this, and fill themselves with self confidence, with an attitude that they are their own help and they are sufficient to deliver themselves. For once they are convinced that they are sufficient in themselves, it is the saddest state of all. No need for God's strength, no need to see their great need for God's mercy. Without perhaps realizing it many have replaced the true God with only themselves, and would be greatly disappointed if heaven were not a hall of mirrors to worship themselves. This is what happens when man has a false image of themselves, and measure themselves with their own opinions.

Why is so very hard for many people to address their miserable condition? They do not see that their misery has been Providentially ordered. And when misery is orchestrated by or permitted by God, then He alone is the One Who can rescue you from this misery. However, if we refuse to see our desperate state, then we shall only become more miserable, until at last we break, and cry out for God's hand to help us in truth, or we break into pieces, and with every piece become more and more miserable. Then one throws on the false cloak of an empty smile, an empty appearance, while suppressing their true condition.

For it was not the Pharisee who's prayer was answered when he prayed "Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men (sinners)". No, Jesus says it was the man who sat in the back crying out "have mercy on me, for I am a sinful man". Jesus said it was this man who rightly knew himself, and that the Pharisee was blind. Of course, even this man comes to rightly know himself only as he is humbled by God's grace to see his own condition.

NOW THE GOOD NEWS! When Jesus came preaching, and all of his apostles alike, they preached "Repent, and believe the GOOD NEWS". "For God demonstrated His own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) God loves us while we are yet his enemies, opposed to His word, rebelling against His will. God's love, unlike man's love, is uncaused by man. We do not cause God to love us. According to God we do the opposite. God is grieved by mankind, and His stubborn and stiff-necked resistance to truth, to the God of truth. And yet Christ comes and takes upon Himself the just punishment that man deserves.

Praise God that He does not delight in leaving one in their misery, but only so long as it takes to draw them irresistibly toward His amazing grace and mercy, and to deliver them from their own helpless estate. Approach your misery with a sober mind. Ask God to help you see your helpless estate. Look at your misery in the face, and see your utter helplessness. Cry out to Christ the only Savior, and see His mighty hand stretch forth to rescue, to heal, and to make you into a new creature in Christ Jesus.

Saint Augustine prayed "May they have not rest, nor sleep, nor peace, until they find their rest in Thee." He knew that man would settle for a false sense of peace, a false happiness, artificial faith in themselves. His prayer was essentially "May they find no happiness, until they find true happiness, the happiness that is found in Christ alone."

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