Gospel Hope for a Heavy Heart1
Broken marriages, suicide, transgenderism, maniacal behavior, defeating jobs, drug abuse, infertility, lawsuits, depression… These are not just things “out there” in the world, but a handful of the weighty conversation topics I’ve had, this week alone, involving people in my life. In some sense it is shocking and overwhelming, and in another it comes as no surprise at all. We are a broken people, that much is clear, and it is painful.
In The Academy this year we have been studying 2 Samuel. Chapter 11 is the famous chapter where David has an affair with Bathsheba. This story is familiar to most of us, but the new, shocking information for me was what started it all... “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” 2 Samuel 11:1. An affair leading to an out of wedlock pregnancy, lying, malice, mass murder, and a dead child all began with this seemingly insignificant phrase “but David remained.” David was not where he was supposed to be and it triggered a chain reaction of one sin after another.
How many times have I dismissed sin…something that seemed insignificant? Trading my Bible time for a few more minutes of sleep? Watching a show when I should be reading? Typing a blog post when I should be tending to my children? If David, “a man after God’s own heart,” could sin so deeply beginning with a sin that seemed so insignificant, simply staying home when he should have gone, how much more so am I prone? Broken marriages don’t just appear one day from nothing. Drug abuse doesn’t begin with addiction. Suicide doesn’t happen the first day you wake up hopeless. These things, whether something we have brought on ourselves or our poor response to something completely out of our control, start from a small seed, and when left unchecked, grow and grow until one day the lion is knocking on your door ready to devour.
When I’m dealing with a discipline issue with my children, I will often ask them this: When a weed is left untended, what happens? My children have helped me garden enough to answer, “It is HARD to pull up!” It is tedious work to weed, but it is significantly easier to pull up the little weeds than the large ones. Weeds steal the vitality that is meant for the fruit bearing plants. Pulling the little weeds leads to a healthy garden with healthy fruit. By the time you struggle to deal with the large, difficult, thorny, overgrown weeds, the garden has often already been smothered. The little foxes spoil the vineyard (Song of Solomon 2:15).
So what is the remedy? It isn’t as simple as just being where we are supposed to be or doing what we are supposed to do. That would mean it is up to us, and that is contrary to the gospel. In 2 Samuel 12, we see David repent and at the end of the chapter, he is where he is supposed to be which demonstrates evidence of that repentance. David didn’t just make himself GO. He went because he had repented. He turned from sin and turned toward God. God granted David a heart change and gave him the grace to pull the giant weed that had smothered the garden. We are to tend to the garden God has given us in the strength He has supplied.
God is eternal. The same Holy Spirit that granted David repentance, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave, is alive and working today and dwells in all believers (Romans 8:11) giving us strength and hope.
We have hope when we are weary either bearing the burden or bearing one another's burdens, because all God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). We have hope not because we can muster up the strength to do what is right, but because of the work accomplished for us on the cross. The Father sent His only son to live, die, and rise to magnify His son by reclaiming a broken, rebellious bride, and to give those who call upon His name a hope in His promises like Psalm 50:15 “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me,” or Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” or 2 Corinthians 12:9 when He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Because I am not only easily disheartened by the headlines that have hit so close to home this week, but am also, like David, only one “small” sin away from falling off the edge of that cliff myself, I cannot bear these burdens. But I praise God I don’t have to. Confirmed with a solid “yes and amen” in Christ, today I am reminded of this promise: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30