Monday, October 7, 2013

Now You Have Two Problems

"O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame" - Jeremiah 17:13

Have you ever been in this scenario? Your day is going pretty well, but then something comes up that discourages you, maybe a difficult conversation, or a bad grade on a paper. Maybe you're stressed because you realize you're late on an assignment or have failed a commitment. Perhaps you're just bored, angry, lonely, or in deep pain. And instead of turning to the Lord, you turn to your favorite idol. It promises comfort, distraction, pleasure, life... and you believe it, and you drink deeply.

But it betrays you! It promised comfort but it only lasted for a few minutes... and now you feel guilt for your sin against God, shame for the dark things you've given in to, distance from God because you've rejected Him, anger for ANOTHER failure, more discouragement as you fear you'll never change, AND you've opened yourself up to Satan's accusations and torture as he mocks you.

Crap! Now you have two problems. The initial one, and now the junk of your wrong response. In Jeremiah 2:13 God says, "for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." This is what happens. We have our first original problem that has us thirsty, but instead of turning to the Fountain of Living Waters, we've turned to a broken cistern, and self-medicated with porn, cutting, food, anger, video games or procrastination. It's about as dumb as dealing with a breakup by getting drunk and fighting people. In the morning you still have a busted relationship, AND you have a busted face. Now you have two problems.

See, this is what our sin does to us! And this is how we respond to life when we try to be our own saviors. We just end up making it worse, like little children who have spilled a bucket of paint but now are trying to clean it up themselves. It just gets more messy.

Thankfully, God has provided a solution in the gospel! Your sinful second response is paid for by the blood of Christ. And the gospel ALSO fixes whatever your first problem was. It's a double-barrel shotgun, blowing away two-for-one, simple as that. Jesus forgives the guilt and cleanses the shame of your sinful response (the second problem) AND provides the resources to resolve whatever your first problem was. Such great news!

So what does this look like practically?
  1. Confess and repent for the second problem (the sinful response): Turn to the Lord, and admit that you screwed up. Admit that you can't save yourself, and when you try to... THIS is what happens. Ask for His forgiveness, and REMEMBER the gospel: God has forgiven you in Christ, God has made you a new creation, God has wiped your slate clean, and you are LOVED. He doesn't hold anything against you!
  2. Turn to the Lord for the first problem: Now think back to whatever the first problem was...  Pain? Anxiety? Loneliness? Sadness? How can you turn to the Lord in this? Perhaps there is no easy solution but simply a call to wait for the Lord and be patient (Psalm 27:14). Or maybe just cry and process with the Lord as He draws near to your broken heart (Psalm 34:18). Maybe there's some comfort that you can draw from His promises, like Philippians 4:6-7, or Isaiah 41:10. Pour out your heart to HIM, and drink deeply from His Word. 
  3. Praise God for His grace! Finally, make sure to set your heart right by THANKING God for His grace and goodness for BOTH problems. He doesn't reject you for rejecting Him. And He doesn't leave you to drown in your suffering. He is loving, caring, and meets us in our junk with HIS clean up strategy.
Fighting both problems with the Gospel,
The Relentless Fight