The last two months have been a trying time for our family. Two months ago, we left a city, a church, our home and friends behind to move to Northwest Arkansas for my job. My wife has been so strong in all of this- she has never moved before. And so uprooting our lives for a place we’ve never been has been hard. We have found a new living places, a new church, and are finding new friends. But the pain is there. And she has been so patient with me not reacting or acting graciously toward her. So loving when I’m tired and I’m not pouring into her. She is, and has always been a great fountain of grace and helpfulness. My helpmeet, my ezer kenegdo.
If nothing else, these changes have made me more aware of my own sin and faults. I am constantly battling impatientce and pride, arrogance, and even doubt. The stress has caused me to sin, not in major disqualifying ways. But small ways. The ways that creep up on you. For the last few nights I have laid awake, tormented by my shortcomings, my faults, my failures. And though try as I might to preach the Gospel to myself through the Word, and to savor Christ in His sacraments each week, if I’m honest there are nights that the question taunts me:
“Does God really love me? Am I really saved?”
It’s a daunting feeling, one of hopelessness and grief. To have your sins all borne in front of you, condemning you to your face. And at the end of the day, I have no defense. I am a sinner. I am angry. I am cutoff and impatient. I am greedy and covetous. I am a guilty man. I have no where to turn but to Christ, and when I turn there I feel at times as though I have been rejected. My heart condemns me, and I don’t feel saved.
But God’s faithfulness to me isn’t based on my feelings; but rather on Christ.
“for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:20
I know that I am a sinner, and in that I’m comforted because Christ died for sinnners. That means Christ died for me! That he has ransomed and redeemed me. That in my doubt my only comfort is that I am not my own. But have a faithful Savior who has fully satisfied for all my sins. And that faithful Savior doesn’t abandon me, but rather is, now in my tossing and turning, interceding on my behalf.
And beause I not my own, I have no need to fear that Christ will abandon me. Not because of my work, those feeble attempts of appeasement. But because of a His work. Because Christ has stood in my guilty place I can, by faith, stand in His righteous place. That’s the greatness of the Great Exchange. Christ takes our sins, yes and amen. But we also get His ridghteousness. So that when God sees me, the doubting sinner, he rather sees Christ. I’m counted as a son.
And if Christ will not abandon me, then I can run to Him again. I can flee with my doubts and my sins and say “You’re it! You’re my only comfort, my only hope. I have no where else to turn.” And he promises that those who come will not be cast out (John 6:37). He promised to raise those who believe in Him up on the Last Day (John 6:40). And because He has been raised, I can look to Him by faith, and latch on again to find rest for my doubts.