Be Not Dismayed

(One of the definitions of “dismay” is “to dishearten thoroughly.” That is the definition I always think of and use.)

Sometimes it can be easy to feel dismayed. This most often happens to me when there is a lot of bad news at once. It doesn’t even have to be something that affects me directly. If I hear too much bad news at one time, I begin to feel thoroughly disheartened. With everything going on in the world lately, I have been struggling with dismay over the past week or so.

But then I read this verse: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10). In context, these words were spoken as encouragement for Israel, but they certainly can apply to all who belong to the Lord. We have no reason to fear or be dismayed because He is our God! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and he has promised never to forsake us. He will give us the strength we need, He will help us, and He will uphold us.

Such a simple thing to say, but sometimes we become so fixated on other things that we almost forget it. Just like Peter when he began to sink after walking on the water, we focus on the turmoil and trials around us rather than on the Lord. But, also like Peter, we have a Lord who will not leave us to deal with the turmoil on our own.

It isn’t our responsibility to fix everything. This is a sinful world, and with it comes pain and heartache and death. There isn’t anything we can do to fix that – and yes, it is a sad thing. But we know the One Who defeated death and sin! He has everything under His control. Our responsibility is not to fix things, but to trust, follow, and obey Him. We can rest in Him, be still and know that He is God.

So, Christians, don’t become disheartened. Be not dismayed. The Lord has your heart and He will never let you out of His grasp. Cast all your cares on Him. Think on the things of the Lord and receive the peace that passes understanding. Keep an eternal perspective. This is not our home. Our hope and joy are in the Lord!

(Even when we feel dismayed, we need to remember that our feelings are not to be our guide in this world – God’s Word should be.)

When There is No Peace

Early this week, a well-known, self-professing atheist killed himself.

Cue the plethora of Facebook posts, memes, tweets, and comments about his now being at peace or at rest or free or “in a better place.” When bad things happen, especially suicide, we look for comfort. It’s only natural to want to make ourselves feel better. Death is hard enough to deal with, but at least natural death we can understand. Even then unbeliever can understand death. It’s a part of life, after all (the “Circle of Life” for those of us who grew up with Disney movies). Suicide we can’t understand; the people who are left behind cannot make sense of it and the only person who might be able to explain things a little bit is gone. None of us likes to be sad or confused or frustrated or upset. So we look for comfort.

But is there comfort to be found in lies? Is it okay to tell people, “This atheist, this person who utterly rejected God, is now at peace in a better place because he killed himself so don’t worry about it”? Maybe I will come off as harsh or mean but my answer, and I believe the Biblical answer, would adamantly be most absolutely not.

Here’s why:

1 – Someone who rejects God does not have peace. He might find temporary comfort in this life, but that is not peace. Peace only comes from God, and an atheist has rejected God and so rejected peace.

2 – This life on Earth is the best thing an atheist has. When an atheist leaves here, he is not in a better place. He is in hell.

3 – This is not what I want to address directly, but it’s still a fair point: Suicide is never the answer. Just because a person has killed himself does not mean he is at peace.

In short, it does much more harm than good to comfort people with empty assurances made up of lies – lies, moreover, that go completely contrary to the Word of God.

This is the verse that keeps coming to mind in this context: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly [a.k.a. superficially], saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14

We are strongly cautioned against false teachers and false prophets, and I believe this kind of thing falls under that category – which is why I so strongly believe it is important to contradict this false teaching when it arises, rather than allow it to continue simply for the sake of not offending or upsetting people. If people aren’t confronted with the reality of sin and death, they will not understand why they need to turn to Christ. Therefore, simply telling them to “turn to Christ to find peace,” and ignore the part about hell and sin (as more than one Christian has told me to do) is not fulfilling our responsibility as Christians, in my opinion. Especially when the rest of the world is telling them a multitude of other places they can go for (empty, meaningless, fake) peace, including suicide.

So, in a situation like this, when people are claiming there is peace/rest/hope/something better in anything other than Christ, let’s correct them. Let’s tell them, “No, actually, that’s not true. What you’re pointing to is utterly hopeless. But I can tell you where to find hope.” We are to treat people with love. Isn’t it more loving to show them the Truth than to encourage them to continue following a lie that would ultimately lead to their destruction?

(Please note: I am not judging an individual’s heart, because only Christ can do that and Christ has the power to save anyone He pleases. But anyone who goes to his death an atheist will not find peace or rest in eternity.)

Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season because it’s starting to get cooler, the humidity is usually much lower, the leaves are amazing colors, and the holidays are approaching. I think a lot of people start to turn their attention more toward home, family, and friends. Summer – the time of going out and doing stuff and going on vacation and always being busy – is ending. And while summer was great fun and everybody enjoyed themselves, autumn is the time to slow down. It’s a relief to see the busy summer days come to an end. People spend more time at home where it’s warm, tucked away from the dark evenings since the days are getting shorter. Bonfires are the events of the season, and it’s the perfect opportunity to relax with people you care about. Sweaters and blankets come out. It’s the perfect time to walk in the woods or go for a hike.

People like to compare the literal seasons to the seasons of life.

I’m not going to get all philosophical on you, don’t worry. But I do like the idea that autumn could be compared to a time in your life when things are calming down. Maybe you’ve just been through something, either something hard or something exciting or just something that demanded a lot from you, and you’ve learned a lesson. The lesson is settling in, and making you look at life in a different way. You’re appreciating things and people more than you did before. You’re notice details that you didn’t before. Most of all you know you have grown, and that gives you a warm feeling even when it’s nippy outside.

So maybe that’s another reason I enjoy autumn so much. It reminds me of the peace that only God can give me, the peace that passeth understanding, the peace that comes when I need it to and makes me look at the world in a different light.

What’s your favorite thing about autumn?