Karl Marx said to that religion is the opium of the people. In other words it is something used to make what would otherwise be unbearable, bearable.
Suffering is the lot of many people and especially the Christian. Many have a disposition to worry and give in to despair. Christianity is not just a drug that renders us insensitive to pain, rather it is an introduction to one who himself suffered and took the penal aspect out of our sufferings. Also faith finds in Christ one who supports in suffering and delivers from suffering .
John Bunyan spent many years in prison for his faith and in Pilgrim’s Progress draws the picture of those who have given up hope and despair “even of life”.
The Christian has not only the psychological problem to deal with but also a spiritual dimension to face.
In the current always “upbeat” church there is very little understanding and empathy for those who are prone to doom and gloom.
As Martin Loyd Jones points out ,there may be physical reasons why these symptoms prevail. For some it is a spiritual reason why they only can see the worst and give over to despairing thoughts.No doubt unresolved sin plays a part but also our own perception of failure and inadequacy
As one prone to be like this, I can only say that we all need to acknowledge that the life of the Christian is not one of perpetual earthly bliss. To teach that it is ,is to go beyond what scripture teaches. To teach that the suffering and despairing Christian is a lesser one and consign them to the fringe because they drag others down is to forget the nature of Christianity and what it is meant to be.
Bunyan in his variety of characters points out how the strong are to support the weak and that in return weaker believers help exercise and strengthen the graces of the stronger.
The greatest treatment and cure for despair is knowledge of the Word and faith in God appropriated to daily life. Like the slough of despond God has provided steps out of our emotional difficulties if only we could see them.
We all come to a place in our lives where we face grave doubts. We question our own values decisions and abilities etc. Such doubts are natural but carried to extremes they become crippling. We must strive against them.
The Christian may come to a point of doubting the truth of scripture, the willingness of God to save and deliver. Maybe they doubt that God loves them at all.
It could be lingering guilt; it may be proneness to sin or numerous other reasons.
God is not pleased with those who doubt his veracity. God’s Word, the Bible has endured and withstood all the best attacks of Satan and carnal men .It will continue to do so.
Yet there is a vast difference between those who are trying to believe and those trying to disprove what God has said.
We may often find ourselves doubting God’s love for us. To reason from present difficulties that God has removed his love from us because of our sin and faithlessness , is something the scriptures constantly warns us against and it provides armour to defend the believer, if only they would put it on.
Satan will tell us that God is angry with us and that there is no return after this. He will tell us we have proved ourselves unworthy or were never Christians at all.
It is here we must exercise faith and have a good talk to ourselves.
If Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Saviour, He promises to welcomes the worst of sinners who come to Him, then why may I not be one of them as well.
If my worthiness or unworthiness were the deciding factor in salvation who then would be saved? Indeed the Word discounts any other prerequisite for salvation except faith.Let us now pray for more faith ,and exercise that faith by obedience.
When sin drags me down , may I cry out against it and take God’s side against it
Were we false or self deluded in the past? From now on let us seek to be true believers and worship God “in spirit and in truth”.Take God at His word and trust Him for His grace.
Let us grasp the Saviour’s hand outstretched to us.
“Fear, lest, by forgetting what you are by nature, you also forget the need that you have of continual pardon, support, and supplies from the Spirit of grace, and so grow proud of your own abilities, or of what you have received from God.”
― John Bunyan