13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. - Psalm 107:13-14
The people in this passage sit in darkness and gloom, and their lives are filled with hopeless ignorance. They worst part is that they are clueless as they continue to sit in darkness. They have no hope, and they can’t figure out what’s wrong. They are blinded to the truth, and held in place by the chains of their habits, attitudes, beliefs, or thoughts. Perhaps its the immobilizing thoughts of depression or the paralyzing fears of building anxieties, perhaps it the bitterness of a critical spirit caused by past betrayals, or the lack of forgiveness for a deep hurt. The problem is when we’re in these prisons, we don’t see our sin, we only feel the oppression of being held down.
When we are in darkness, we are unaware of our guilt and our sin before God. We simply cannot see until He draws back the curtain and shows us the light. It is a glorious moment when He does shed light on our lives, and allows us to see the shackles we’ve been living in, but it can be so hard for some of us to get there. For many of us, we pull the blankets back over our heads and still choose to live in darkness in certain places in our lives, even after He has opened our eyes to the light. Why? Because it’s easier. It’s easier to stand in the darkness than to look into those places in our hearts where we store our past hurts, where we have built walls to protect ourselves, where our strongholds are generational, where the wounds are too deep. We are so dead in our trespasses and sins that we are only vaguely aware of our guilt before God—guilt that requires His mercy.
We often try to avoid our guilt by looking at others as worse sinners. We justify our actions by comparing ourselves to the sin of others, which is why we often end up in judgment of others. But, comparing ourselves to anything other than God brings us up short. The world will tell us that we're "not that bad," and we avoid the guilt. As a result, our prayers often don't reflect the gratitude we should have for all that He has done for us, nor do they include a humble confession for the many ways we have sinned against Him. Our prayers most often end up being a list of requests that would either make our lives easier, or they focus on the sin issues of others. "Please make my sister see.." "Please help my husband to.." "Please protect my children as they..."
Or, at the other end of the spectrum, we become so self absorbed in the guilt that our despair paralyzes us. Again, we compare ourselves to others, but this time come up short, feeling like a failure and we become overwhelmed. Instead of looking at the beautiful gift of mercy that Christ has given us, we hold up a hand, rejecting His gift, saying we don't deserve it. How completely arrogant - to tell the Creator of this entire, massive, incredibly beautiful and intricate universe that He's wrong. Can you imagine how you'd feel if you gave a beautiful gift to someone you loved, and they refused to accept it? In either case, our focus is in the wrong place - our problem is self, and our sin is pride. We don't have the power to fully humble ourselves to the place of recognizing the beautiful gift of mercy He has given to us, we need to go to Him for that. That’s where we need to cry out. Our prayers should begin with a request that He bring us to a place of humility and give us eyes to truly see the amazing gift of mercy, for Him to pull back the curtains and shed light on the chains that hold us down. We need Him to show us where we rebel against His Word.
Stop looking at others, and look only into your own heart. Perhaps we are caught in the trap of boastful lies because we so deeply value what other people think of us, or maybe our unrealistic expectations of others launches us into angry tirades when things don’t go our way. Perhaps it’s an irresponsible spending habit, or a lack of patience for someone whom needs the extra time in our lives. Perhaps it’s a critical spirit of a child who needs encouragement, or the judgment of a co-worker who seems to be struggling. Perhaps it's prioritizing the things of the world over Him, and giving into the busy demands of our schedule over time spent with Him - in the Word, in church, in small group, or in prayer. The only way to shine His light on what is holding us down is to spend quiet time with Him daily. Get your bible out and open in front of you - every day, and let Him show you your chains. Then cry out to Him. He promises to deliver you.
Though this weekend is harder for me physically than last weekend, my Hope remains in Him. I am down more than up these days and that’s hard for me, but so very thankful that He is giving me this additional time to be quiet with Him, and to reflect on all the different places in my heart where I hide my chains.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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