It can be hard to “focus on Jesus” sometimes, can’t it?
Even that phrase, “focus on Jesus”, is difficult to grasp onto. With everything else that fights for our attention, our concentration wanders. We struggle to remain centered on the important truths.
As for me, I worry. I struggle. I am bothered by things I see happening around me that I feel powerless to do anything about. Hardships continue to assail, even families and friends are torn apart. By warring factions, distractions and desperation. Occupying my mind with anything but what can truly bring peace. Especially now, for some reason….during Lent and Easter.
Satan wants to distract us, turn us away, and discourage us. It is his job to make us forget about the truth of this season: the punishment that brought us a blessing.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
And yet. I am called back, gently, by a quiet voice, insistent amidst the other noisy thoughts that preoccupy my mind, threatening to tear my heart to pieces.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12
The quiet voice speaks of a beautiful gospel comfort, a truth that can put my fears to rest. An assurance that can calm my anxious thoughts. An unchanging reality that can stay me in this quickly changing world. A peace that passes all understanding.
I grasp on to it, desperately wanting to internalize this truth that I find woven throughout Scripture. That because of my failings, Jesus went to the cross. Because He loved me that much. Because He cared about my soul and wanted me to live with a peace that could only be found in reconciliation with the Father.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4
Let us not remain unrepentant. Let us not take lightly the sacrifice that was necessary to win our freedom.
This freedom is not always well-received by those who do not understand what it means. Sharing how we have been freed with others may mean trials and, in some places and times, persecution.
But we can take heart, friends, even in the hard times, because the truth is this: He has already conquered.
That dark day when Christ took our shame and failings, and then three days later turned our sorrow into joy, this loving act made Him the eternal conqueror.
As he triumphed over sin, the devil, wars against truth, the “spiritual forces” that our struggle is really against–the Lord provided us with what we didn’t even know we desperately needed–peace, security, comfort and eternal FREEDOM.
And this is true freedom. A freedom that does not need the approval of lawmakers to stand tall. A freedom that cannot be snatched away by viewpoints that set themselves up against God’s Word. A freedom that is boundless and everlasting.
Freedom from sin.
My sin, your sin, the sins of the world. The Lamb of God took them upon Himself, bearing our burdens so we can be truly and finally free. And it is free for us to receive, by grace.
We can breathe again, respond with thankfulness and go forward into all nations and share (in love) this gospel that has redeemed us.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, orpersecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
I can put it aside now. My worry, my frustrations, my fears. In this world we will have trouble, no doubt. Jesus tells us it will continue until the final day when the devil is eternally crushed beneath His heel.
But the presence of trouble does not have to mean the absence of peace.
I can remember now…..we all can remember…..the victory won on our behalf during that first Easter season thousands of years ago. Let’s rejoice in it, putting aside the distractions and claiming the truth as our defender, embracing the beautiful gospel repose that is freely given to all who believe.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Galatians 5:1