VIDEO Fearing Dark Days

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

Charles Spurgeon was known as the “Prince of Preachers” in nineteenth century London. Crowds packed his church weekly to hear him expound on God’s Word. What many don’t know is that Spurgeon suffered from bouts of depression his whole life. He cited various reasons: illness, trauma, loneliness, mental exertion, failure, weather, controversy, criticism, and more.[1]

We have the mistaken impression that godly people don’t suffer from times of spiritual or emotional darkness. But David, the psalmist, certainly did. Three times in the psalms he asked himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:5, 11, 43:5) But he, and other psalmists, knew God was the Light who could dispel the darkness: “But I hope in Your word” (Psalm 119:81, 114, 147). And the apostle Paul reminds us that dark times can lead to hope, and hope “does not disappoint” because God’s love has been “poured out in our hearts” (Romans 5:3-5).

When darkness descends, don’t fear. Rather, hope in God—His Word and His love—to bring you into the light.

In the darkness of our miseries, the grace of God shines more brightly. John Calvin


Psalm 42 • My Soul Thirsts for God

The Purple Shawl

I urge you . . . to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Romans 15:30

While serving as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center hundreds of miles away from my home, I asked people to pray for us. As the months passed, isolation and loneliness sapped my strength. How could I care for my mom if I gave in to my physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion?

One day, a friend sent me an unexpected care package. Jodi had crocheted a purple prayer shawl, a warm reminder that we had people praying for us daily. Whenever I wrapped the soft yarn around my shoulders, I felt God hugging me with the prayers of His people. Years later, He still uses that purple shawl to comfort me and strengthen my resolve.

The apostle Paul affirmed the importance and spirit-refreshing power of praying for others. Through his passionate request for prayerful support and encouragement during his travels, Paul demonstrated how those who pray for others become partners in ministry (Romans 15:30). Offering specific requests, the apostle not only showed his dependence on the support of fellow believers but his trust that God powerfully answers prayer (vv. 31–33).

We’ll all experience days when we feel alone. But Paul shows us how to ask for prayer as we pray for others. When we’re wrapped in the intercessory prayers of God’s people, we can experience God’s strength and comfort no matter where life takes us.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Who has God used to encourage you through intercessory prayer? Who can you pray for today?

Loving God, thank You for the gift of intercessory prayers and for assuring me that You hear me and care for me wherever I go.

Read Moving Mountains: The Practice of Persistent Prayer at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0740.

How to Conquer Your Fears

Psalm 27:1-3

I’ve walked with the Lord for more than seven decades now. I have read the Bible from cover to cover, preached thousands of sermons, and written pages and pages of study material. But let me tell you: In spite of all that, sometimes I still get scared.

When fear begins to sink in, I pray harder, study longer, and read my Bible more closely. I decided long ago that I would not let apprehension stop me from doing what God calls me to do. However, before I can take a stand against fear, I have to admit it is there. That’s the key to conquering feelings of anxiety.

I imagine you, on occasion, may feel frightened too­—whether of failure, ridicule, loneliness, or something else entirely. There is no shame in admitting you’re afraid. In the Psalms, in fact, King David makes this confession several times! (See Psalm 34:4; Psalm 55:4-5.) His confessions are often wrapped in prayer, acknowledging the Lord’s power over his fears and his enemies. And these are examples we can follow.

That same power is available to you today. God wants to cast out the fear and doubt in your life. Are you willing to go before Him today and say, “Lord, I’m afraid of … ”?

Love’s Longing Prayer

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9)

Paul’s longing for the Philippian church is eloquently expressed in his prayer for their maturation in the faith. It begins simply with a prayer for their growing love—love that will “abound yet more and more.” This phrase is only used two other times: in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 10. Essentially, the prayer is that their love would never stop increasing.

The focus of the ever-increasing love, however, is not emotive reactions or depth of feeling. It is a nonstop, evergrowing love for “knowledge” and “judgment.” And as one might expect, the Holy Spirit’s choice of words is important.

Several Greek words could be translated as “knowledge.” This specific choice in Philippians 1:9 is epignosis, a term that emphasizes understanding of facts or truth and carries an intensive meaning with a fuller, clearer, more thorough knowledge than mere awareness of data. A person with epignosis knows both what and why they have certain facts.

“Judgment” is the translation of aisthesis, an unusual term that demands perception, understanding, and discernment of what to do with the knowledge. Both terms are intellectually based and require a growing grasp of information. But both are the product of love—not human standards of high intelligence.

We must be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17), speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and always be conscious of our relationships so that we “increase” the “edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Finally, there is this overarching statement: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). HMM III

Where Are the Prophets?

O GOD, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. —Psalm 63:1-2

But it is within our hearts and our beings that God searches and looks. It is our spiritual heart life that is to be simple. It is in our hearts that we are to meditate and be silent. It is deep within our beings that we must be courageous and open to God’s leadings.

If there ever was an hour in which the church needed courageous men of prophetic vision, it is now. Preachers and pastors? They can be turned out in our schools like automobiles off the assembly line.

But prophets? Where are they?

The simple, humble and courageous men who are willing to serve and wait on God in the long silences, who wait to hear what God says before they go to tell the world—these do not come along too often. When they do, they seek only to glorify their God and His Christ!   CES134-135

Oh Lord, I long to be one of those “courageous men of prophetic vision.” I quiet my heart today: I will “wait on God in the long silences;” and then I’ll go with only the word that I receive from Youonly for Your glory. Amen.

Becoming What We Love

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. —John 21:16

We are becoming what we love. We are to a large degree the sum of our loves and we will of moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most; for love is among other things a creative affinity; it changes and molds and shapes and transforms. It is without doubt the most powerful agent affecting human nature next to the direct action of the Holy Spirit of God within the soul.

What we love is therefore not a small matter to be lightly shrugged off; rather it is of present, critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we shall be, and so predicts accurately our eternal destiny.

Loving wrong objects is fatal to spiritual growth; it twists and deforms the life and makes impossible the appearing of the image of Christ in the soul. It is only as we love right objects that we become right, and only as we go on loving them that we continue to experience a slow but continuous transmutation toward the objects of our purified affection. GTM196-197

How shall we become lovely? By loving Him who is ever lovely. JAS076

I Was There

Galatians 6:14

The great difference between the historical fact of Easter and all others in the long record of events upon earth is that I feel that I was in the deepest sense a participator in it. I do not feel this way regarding any other fact in history, striking and moving as many of them are.

At the lovely Cathedral of Canterbury I was taken into those cool, shadowed cloisters and shown the place where the blood of a famous cleric ran down upon the gray stones. “This is the spot,” my guide said to me, “where Thomas Becket, the proud and powerful prelate, was at prayer when five of the king’s knights came upon him with drawn swords.” Becket was kneeling before the altar when they struck him, and his blood ran down upon the sacred stones. The story touches my heart. Its drama, struggle and tragedy come vividly before me. But I do not feel that it has anything to do with me. I come away from Canterbury grateful for a history lesson. But that is all.

I go to the place, dear to many, where Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded. I ponder over her restless life with its continual storms blowing upon her until she had to die with the axe upon her slender neck. But I do not feel that her life and death have anything to do with me. I say, “Ah, yes! I remember the story.” And to me it is only a story.

But I go home from a meeting, late in the evening, and I feel I would like to hear a little music. So I put on my player a record by the International Staff Band, and I hear men’s voices singing the old spiritual, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” And I feel deeply and inescapably that the question is for me. I reply, “Yes! I was there! Indeed, I was there!”

This matter has to do with me as no other fact in history. Why do I feel like this? It is not because of an emotional reaction to an oft-told story. This matter goes deeper than that. I am brought to Calvary by my sin, by my need of forgiveness, by my identity with the human race in its need of a Savior.

We must all come near to the cross, with our guilt, our hopes and fears. Here we will find the answer to our deepest needs. It must be a personal approach that we make to Calvary. Until we can say “I was there!” we cannot know the true meaning of the central fact in all history.

Albert Orsborn, The War Cry