“You, Lord, … give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! I praise the Lord because he guides me; I am always aware of the Lord’s presence: he is near, and nothing can shake me…You will show me the path that leads to life, your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.” (Psalm 16:5-8,11)
Sometimes we face unexpected pain. One might be loneliness; the Bible has two resources for this great hurt. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Tim 5.8) This instruction is given in a teaching about widows, and aging parents. To neglect caring for one’s own parents is a terrible sin and no Christian should ever be guilty of it. The 5th of the 10 commandments is that we must honor our father and mother, and Scripture tells us to love and care for them as part of that honor. Parents care for children during their younger years. Children then have the honor of caring for parents, if need be, in their older years.
But suppose one’s children fail or suppose one has no children? Perhaps they are far away, like mine. Be a friend, reach out. Friendship cures the sense of loneliness. Be a friend. But there’s an even better resource, one that will never fail: “You, Lord, … give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! I praise the Lord because he guides me; I am always aware of the Lord’s presence: he is near, and nothing can shake me…You will show me the path that leads to life, your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.” (Psalm 16:5-8,11)
To have such a companion all the time! He loves me so much he gave his life for me. He has forgiven all my sins and promised me a home in heaven with him. But even now he walks beside me, talks with me. And nothing can separate me from his loving companionship (Romans 8:31-39).
Another temptation of unexpected pain is bitterness. If a person feels useless or lonely, even misused, she or he may become bitter. Bitter because God hasn’t given me health and strength to do what I want to do, bitter because my children neglect me, bitter because someone wronged me long ago, bitter because I fell short of my life ambition. Bitterness makes a person very ugly and hard to live with. So one becomes even more lonely as people tend to leave them alone.
What does Jesus say to this? “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). If we truly trust him we know he will take care of us and one day make all the wrongs right. Read John 14:2-6. Bitterness is a sin that’s especially foolish. It harms no one but the person who holds it. And it is a useless sin since it can make nothing right, but only contributes to making everything in life worse. And it is an unnecessary sin because if we trust God, that very trust cures our bitterness.
Do not let bitterness sprout. It will poison everyone in your life and you, yourself, will be the first casualty. Yet some cultivate the noxious weed. Root it out! “Pursue peace with all…looking diligently … lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:14,15)
Insecurity is a third painful fruit. Will I become ill? Will my financial resources fail? I feel so vulnerable- what will become of me? Margaret who had her entire estate wiped out, her son-in-law was out of work for 2 years, granddaughter killed in accident and soon after her missionary son in Taiwan was almost killed and permanently damaged. What will become of her? And yet I wonder if I don’t worry about her more than she does for herself. Such cheerful faith. What a model!
God promises: “I have cared for you from the time you were born. I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is grey. I made you and will care for you, I will give you help and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:3,4).Wi you trust God? Do you companion with him?