Sometimes we feel inadequate. Comparing ourselves to our neighbors can leave us feeling poor, unintelligent, fat, weak, old, or incapable. God has never called these things bad, but we do, and we work hard to cover them up. Behold the gigantic cosmetic industry.
We hide, puff ourselves up to make ourselves feel big, and put others down. Instead of accepting our mistakes, we blame others and God.
Look at Adam and Eve. Initially, they were happy in the Garden of Eden, open to and accepted by God, each other, and themselves. Then they ignored what God told them and became their own judges. They were afraid and they hid (Genesis 3:8, 10). They also blamed others. Adam blamed Eve and God for putting Eve there (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the serpent and indirectly God for putting the serpent there (Genesis 3:13).
Totally distracted, they missed their main mistake, which was disobeying God.
How to get out?
Assess ourselves soberly and accurately (Romans 12:3). Then, we will see we are broken. We have rebelled against God (Romans 3:23).
But through Christ, God has accepted us as His children (Ephesians 1:5,7-8), destined to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). Nothing could separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Not just loving us, God delights in us (Zephaniah3:17). With the almighty loving us so much, we shouldn’t be afraid and insecure (Romans8:31-32).
Further, in Christ, we belong to a body (Romans12:4-5). As different parts of the body, we have our different strengths and weaknesses, serving different functions (Romans12:6-8).
Our strengths are God’s gifts. There is no room for pride. Discover our strengths and use them diligently and effectively.
Our weaknesses help us be more interdependent and humble. There is no room to feel inferior.
Carefully identify our strengths and our weaknesses to find our role.
In conclusion, know that we are broken. But through Christ, we are accepted as God’s beloved children. So, be strong and courageous. Identify our strengths and weaknesses to work as a team to love God and others.
Summarized from Section Three of Chip Ingram’s book, True Spirituality: Becoming a Romans 12 Christian.
我们有时候与邻居相比见拙, 会觉得贫穷, 愚蠢, 肥胖, 虚弱, 苍老, 无力。上帝没有称这些事为不好的. 但我们会，还会试图掩盖它们的存在。看看庞大的化妆品行业。 隐藏真实的自己，自吹自擂，让自己感觉优越，贬低他人。不接受自己的错误，却责怪他人和上帝。
Could we psych ourselves up against suffering by constantly telling ourselves to be happy? Psalms 126 shows us different paths.
Suffering is inevitable. The psalmist in Psalm 126 described Israelites as destitute, like the lifeless, barren desert of Negev. There was no mention of them doing anything wrong, yet they were in anguish. They might not have understood why they suffered, which can be a source of pain by itself.
Christians may even weep more than others. Our hearts of stone have been changed to hearts of flesh, making us more vulnerable to feel pain than before (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26).
Even Christ, the perfect human, suffered.
When we suffer, we must not give in to self-pity. Our suffering is nothing compared to what Christ went through for us. If we suffer in following Christ, then we should count it as a blessing (2 Corinthians 4:17).
When we suffer, have faith that God is still with us. No matter what we’ve done, Christ has already endured our punishment. Be assured in God’s promise of His grace and eternal glory with us forever.
Honestly express your feelings in prayer. One psalmist even asked God to go away so he could enjoy life again before dying (Psalms 39:13). God understands our frustration. When Christ was in deep sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), and when God the Father abandoned Him on the cross (Matthew 47:46), Christ honestly expressed His pain.
And be patient. Persistent prayer will end in praise. Many Psalms begin with the psalmists crying out to God but end in praise.
Finally, be proactive. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalms 126:5, 6).
In summary, expect suffering. Don’t feel self-pity, but have faith that God is with us. So, honestly express your pain to Him in prayer. Be patient and proactive. God will provide, and He will deliver.
Summarized from Tim Keller’s sermon:
Fear and anxiety are compelling forces. The fear of losing can drive professional athletes to work very hard. But such emotions can also be debilitating. Sports can take over the life of professional athletes. One day, when their careers are over, they could be lost. Losing their identity and worrying about their future can drive them to self-destructive behavior.
The pressure of outside forces couple with our own self-doubt and guilt can paralyze us.
In Psalm 3, David was fleeing from Absalom, his favorite son. David was outnumbered by enemies on all sides (v1, 6), and many feared that God had deserted him (v2). They questioned David’s authority to be their king, which threatened David’s foundation and identity.
Let’s learn from David’s reactions.
First, David trusted that God had not left him. God was a shield around him, answering David’s prayer from His holy mountain (v3-4). From God came deliverance (v8).
Second, David’s glory is from God—not from his army, political power, moral standing or love of his people and his family, all of which he had lost. It was God who lifted his head high (v3).
Similar verses in Genesis 15 show God assuring Abraham that He was Abraham’s shield and his very great reward (15:1). Despite their imperfections, both Abraham and David were protected in their faith in God’s love and mercy.
Similarly, we can be God’s cherished children, and the almighty God can be our glory.
Because of his trust in God, David did not suffer from fear, anxiety, or insomnia (v4-5). David’s head was lifted high (v3). After all, he was God’s anointed king.
Third, David focused on God’s people. With the king fleeing, the country was likely in chaos. David asked God to strike his wicked enemies and to bless His people (v7-8). Likewise, we shouldn’t think only of ourselves, but think about others. In love, there is no fear (1 John 4:18).
Thus, we must rely on Christ to fight fear and anxiety. He is our protection, and He is also our glory. And we shouldn’t just think about ourselves but focus on others as well.
Summarized from a Tim Keller’s sermon:
Troubles in life cause anxiety and stress. Breathing exercises, meditation, and work/life balance are some techniques to deal with stress, but Philippians 4:4-12 focuses on the fundamentals.
Inner calm and contentment come from God’s peace, which transcends all understanding (v6-7). Regularly facing attack, torture, and death, Paul teaches us that such contentment can be learned (v11-12).
First, think about whatever is true, noble, and right. Think about whatever is pure, lovely, and admirable (v8). Think about God sending His Son to redeem us, to bring us back to Him. Christ on the cross died a violent death, sacrificing His peace, so we could have eternal peace (2 Corinthians 5:21). Think about God’s love.
Second, thank God as you present Him your requests (v6). God may not grant our requests, but He will provide. No matter how bad we have been, we know God has accepted us through Christ’s death on the cross. How would He not always give us the best, when He even gave us His only Son? Trust that He cares.
Third, set your heart and build your house on God. When we build our foundation on sand, our lives become restless, filled with anxiety and devoid of peace. In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Focus on loving and serving our unchanging God. Then we will find peace.
In 1870s, Horatio Spafford went bankrupt just before his five children, one son and four daughters, died. In the wake of such tragedy, he wrote, “It is well with my soul”:
Peace, like a river, attendeth my way . . . My sin . . . is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more . . . praise the Lord, O my soul . . . It is well with my soul.
Think about God’s love and what He has done for us. Present your requests to Him and thank Him. And set your heart on our unchanging God. Then you will find peace.
Adapted from a Tim Keller sermon:
19世纪70年代，Horatio Spafford 破产了，随即他的儿子和四个女儿相继去世。在如此悲痛浩劫中，他写道：我有平安如江河
Imagine you are sick, you need money to pay rent, and suddenly you’re fired. Or, in a yacht in the Pacific, you are hit by a huge storm with 40-foot waves. Can you still be at peace?
In Psalm 3, David’s enemies greatly outnumbered his. They assailed him on every side. Yet David could rest and sleep without fear.
How do we manage this?
We often feel anxious when we desperately work towards certain goals without achieving them. We try hard to defend and prove ourselves but often fall short.
Our environment also causes anxiety. In “The Trial,” Frank Kafka describes a man accused of a crime that can not be defined. Initially, assuming the world a rational place and he a decent person, he thought he would be released. But he was executed. The world is not rational. In the words of Sigmund Freud, “Most people are trash.”
How can we find peace?
First, we must accept that we are in a very bad shape.
We constantly fail in following the two biggest commandments: loving God with all of our hearts and loving others as ourselves. We often fall short of the same metrics we judge others with (Romans 2:14).
We must accept our failures. By our effort, we could never be accepted by God (Hebrews 4:10).
Don’t seek rest in your accomplishments, relationships, wealth, or abilities. All these things could change overnight. How can we rest on something that constantly changes? How can you sleep on a bed that keeps moving?
Instead, rely on Christ. Rely on what He has done for us (Hebrews 4:10).
David could rest because he depended on God. He didn’t find his glory in his power or wealth, but in God alone (Psalms 3:3).
To conclude, if we want to be at peace and still strive even in very difficult situations, we must depend on Christ and let God be our glory.
Summarized from a Tim Keller’s sermon:
环境也可使人感到焦虑。小说“TheTrial”的作者Frank Kafka描述了一名被含糊不清的罪而被指控的疑犯Josef。最初，他认为世界是有理性的，再者自己也不是坏人，因此会被释放而获得自由的。但最后他被处决了。世界并非到处都有理性的，就像有名的心理学家Sigmund Freud所说：“大多数人都是垃圾。”