When we are anxious or spiritually depressed, we would rather reach out for some quick fix than to study the Bible and apply its principles to ourselves. Sometimes we’ll just grab at any passage, looking for a psychological twist from it. Remember doing that? Thinking in terms of temperaments, personality types and disorders. Or we try to work ourselves into a more positive attitude instead of thinking through the biblical doctrines. Who has the energy to think through the doctrine of the trinity when we’re depressed?
But, God’s Comfort for our Anxieties comes from remembering these great themes of the Bible and praying for the Holy Spirit to make them real to us in our experience. For instance, the reality of God being in three persons (doctrine; great theme; principle) is that we bow before His majesty, thankful for His suffering, grateful for His presence. When we contemplate the Father’s majestic power, it makes us smaller, our self less important at the moment. When we’re overcome with thankfulness for our salvation and the price of the cross, our anxieties seem not so important. And as our hearts are strangely warmed with praise and gratefulness, we are aware of God’s Spirit working in us to comfort and strengthen us for that day’s duties. This is God’s kind of comfort. It is so much better than using the Bible as a psychological tool or an attempt to stir our emotions. Try staring at the cross!
I’ve learned this from Roger Ellsworth and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, among others. (You can google either one.)
“The New Testament pays us a great compliment by giving us its comfort in terms of doctrine…It all seems very strange to our modern ears, to those who desire immediate and direct comfort. But this is the very glory of the New Testament; it gives us doctrine, it regards us as intelligent human beings. It says, ‘Stand on your feet for a moment. Here is doctrine. Work it out for yourself.’ …It is not a direct comfort, but an indirect comfort.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Miracle of Grace, Baker House, 1986, p. 36-37 (italics mine)